British boxer Amir Khan has been in Dubai this past week as he recovers from his defeat to Terence Crawford in the WBO world welterweight title fight on April 20. During his stay, he spoke with local media on a wide range of boxing-related topics.
On rebuilding his reputation after controversial Crawford defeat
“I think the career’s always been built because I’ve fought about 15 former world champions and champions. Now it’s all about being smart, taking the right moves. Like I’ve said, it is my last chapter in boxing and I want to just maximise everything, be smart, get the right advice.
"I wouldn't want to finish my career off with a fight like that. I want to finish my career off on a good win, looking good, where people want to see more of me, and then call it a day."
On how he rates Crawford, currently No 2 in pound-for-pound rankings
“He’s a great fighter, I’m not taking anything away from him. Whatever shots were thrown in the fight, I might say he’s slow and he might not think he’s slow, but it is what it is. He’s a great fighter; I give him all the credit he’s due, and I wish him all the very best.
"Now I know why he’s classed one of the best pound-for-pound fighters: he’s got good skill, good hand speed, good movement, and he’s very tricky in there. He’s a switch-hitter as well. He’s going to go a long way.”
On still competing in a star-studded welterweight division
“If you look at the top 15 fighters in the welterweight division, they could all be world champion. That’s how stacked that division is; it’s the hardest division in the world. Remember, [Floyd Mayweather Jr’s] now out, and he was one of the names in the division.
"You’ve got great fighters like [Errol] Spence, Crawford; [Manny] Pacquiao’s still there. Pacquiao lost and everyone thought he was done. Fighters just have that one bad day and come back stronger, and I’m one of those fighters that can come back and still face some of the top names in the division.”
Amir Khan's five greatest victories – in pictures
On that long-rumoured fight with Pacquiao
“He inspires me; he definitely motivates me. For not retiring, not hanging up my gloves. I know it’s a fight that can happen. For both of us, it would be a massive fight globally. It's been very close: literally, contracts have been sent back and forth. From my side, the contracts were signed.
"Same with the Mayweather fight. We’ve got very close with fights and not happened. Maybe in Dubai? That would be amazing, as Dubai would be a good location as there are a lot of Filipinos, Pakistanis and British here. A lot of fans would turn up.”
On sustaining his career as famed speed inevitably slows with age
“With speed dropping it makes you think a little bit more. I still feel quick. When I was young I was super quick, but now I’m a little bit older, my speed has dropped a little bit. But I still feel I’m a lot quicker than most fighters. I’m still the quickest in the world.
"Now, the thing is being smarter and more strategic in fights and sticking to tactics and a game plan. Instead of using my speed, having that advantage, now I have to change that a little bit, take the speed away a bit and work more on the skill side. That’s what’s going to push me a little more. Speed was getting me out of trouble, speed was winning me fights. But now I have to change that and work on other types of skills to win fights.”
On Dubai hosting major boxing events
"Boxing in Dubai is improving, it's getting bigger and bigger. There are a lot of expats here from Britain, America and everywhere. There are so many big boxing fans. I've just heard they've built a big stadium [Coca-Cola Arena] downtown, so imagine doing a big boxing event there. It'd be huge. It'd be a sell-out. I always said I wanted to fight here.
"If it happens in my career, that'd be amazing. If it doesn't, I'd like to support another fight to be here. I am willing to put my own promotion team on the line. I just need that go-ahead from the top guys here. If they said we were allowed to do it, I’d say Amir Khan Promotions would regularly put on regular boxing events in Dubai. And they’d be big boxing events, big names as well.”