EXCLUSIVE: Amir Khan Talks Fighting Mayweather – And Even Pacquiao?
At 24 years old, Amir Khan is one of boxing’s most exciting stars. The youngest British Olympic boxing medalist (he won silver at 17 at the 2004 Athens Games) Khan also won the WBA world title at 22, going on to defend it five times before unifying the division. He’s defeated five world champions in his professional career so far and is currently gearing up for what’s likely his final bout as a junior welterwight against Lamont Peterson in Washington D.C. on December 10.
We caught up with Amir Khan for a final interview before his latest match-up, with the gracious sportsman talking his all-important weight class move, a much-discussed shot at Floyd Mayweather, plans to fight Manny Pacquiao, his love for artists like Drake and Lil Wayne, community work and more.
Is your upcoming fight with Lamont Peterson definitely your last as a junior welterweight?
“It’s too early to say because at the moment, all I’m concentrating on is getting past Lamont Peterson. After that I will sit down with my team and have a talk about what we want to do. It’s no secret that it’s getting harder for me to get serious matchups in the division now. I offered Timothy Bradley the chance of seeing once and for all who the best is in the 140 pound division, but he wasn’t interested in fighting me. The WBC stripped him of the belt and Erik Morales won the vacant title, so I offered him the fight and he also turned it down. I only want the top fights now. We’ll see what happens after Peterson and decide what step we want to take, but there’s no doubt I could make a successful step up to welterweight.”
Many sports journalists say you may not be taking this fight with Peterson, or potential upcoming fights with guys like Kell Brook, serious enough. They’re hinting you’re too focused on moving to the next weight class and fighting guys like Floyd Mayweather. What do you say to that?
“Make no mistake about it, all I’m thinking about is Peterson. In boxing you can never overlook your immediate opponent because the ramifications of doing so can be disastrous. It doesn’t bother me what some might say because I know, and my team knows, that December 10 is all that matters. I want to take my world titles back home with me and show how good I am in that fight.”
How valid is the talk you will definitely fight Mayweather next year?
“Nothing has been signed or agreed; at the moment all it is is talk. I want to beat Peterson and then look at my next challenge, whoever that might be against. I would love to fight Floyd Mayweather when I eventually move up to welterweight. I’ve never hid the fact I only want to face the best and prove myself as a true and worthy champion and to do that you have to beat the best out there.”
You have the same trainer as Manny Pacquiao (Freddie Roach). Were you surprised by how close Pacquiao’s fight with Marquez was?
“It did surprise me how close the fight was. Initially I thought Marquez had pipped it, but watching it again on TV the next day I saw that Manny won the fight. When you’re ringside you can be taken in with the occasion and the atmosphere and there were a lot of Mexican supporters in the crowd who were cheering every time Marquez landed, which made me think Marquez was doing more than he did. But on closer inspection, when I had the chance to sit down with a cool head and watch a re-run of the fight, I think Manny edged it, though it was the closest of their three bouts in my opinion. There is no doubt Marquez is a very dangerous fighter and he put on a great display that night.”
Being that you and Pacquiao share Roach as a trainer, how will that work if you do eventually fight each other?
“I’m not thinking about fighting Manny. We are good friends and that fight won’t happen. I wouldn’t put Freddie in a situation where he had to choose between us because he’s been instrumental in both our careers.”
What part of boxing do you dislike the least?
“The training camps, when Alex Ariza gets me up at 5am! To be honest, though, I love what I do and am very lucky to be doing something I enjoy. I’ve been boxing since I was a young kid and loved it so much I was always in the gym and it’s the same now that I’m grown. I love fighting!”
What music do you listen to while you’re training (your favorite artists, etc)?
“Anything with a good beat. I like hip-hop and R&B mostly. My favorite artists are Drake, Jay Sean, Akon, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Dappy and Tinie Tempah.”
Have you chosen the music you’ll come out to for your fight on December 10?
“I’ve got my own custom-made track made by a rapper from LA called Mr Capone, which I normally come out to for all my fights.”
You’ve been boxing since you were young, but if you hadn’t entered the field professionally what other occupation do you think you might be doing?
“I think I would have still done something in sport; maybe be a P.E. teacher or something along those lines.”
Congratulations on the huge amount of community work you do—from donating £1 million to open a boxing gym in Bolton to get youth off the street to handing out food to children in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. Where does that sense of service come from?
“I think it’s important to give back and help people when you can. Ever since the Olympics I’ve become well known and have had the chance to support some great causes because of it. My parents and my religion taught me it’s very important to help in charity. I’ve been very fortunate with my success so I try to do whatever I can to help those who aren’t in the same position.”
You’re sponsored by Reebok. What’s your favorite Reebok sneaker of all time?
“My Reebok Zigtech’s!”
Amir Khan fights Lamont Peterson at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, December 10.