Amir Khan ready to prove he has warrior spirit
Amir Khan has vowed to prove his credentials as one of the most promising talents in world boxing when he faces Zab Judah in their light-welterweight unification showdown in Las Vegas tomorrow night.
Victory over five-time world champion Judah, who holds the IBF belt, would be another impressive scalp for the 24-year-old who has his heart set on replacing Manny Pacquiao as the next pound for pound king.
Even at 33 Judah is a dangerous opponent having fought Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Kostya Tszyu, though he lost all three among six defeats in 49 contests.
“Judah has been a good champion, but he's had his time and it's my time now,” Khan said.
“I'm the young one and I'm going to take his belt.”
Khan faces Judah at the Mandalay Bay Resort admitting many still question his punch resistance. Even a thrilling clash with knockout specialist Marcos Maidana, which saw Khan survive a ferocious battering in the 10th round to triumph on points, has failed to appease his critics.
It is exasperating for the Bolton boxer, who insists he repeatedly displays his warrior spirit during sparring sessions under the guidance of trainer Freddie Roach at the Wildcard gym.
Among those testing Khan's resilience is Filipino great Pacquiao, who has failed to floor his stablemate with his best punch.
“Manny's hit me with a clean back hand, his hardest shot, and I walked straight onto it and still stood there,” he added.
“He was asked if I have a glass jaw and he said 'what are you talking about, I spar with him and he's knocked lots of sparring partners out who are heavier'.
“Sparring at the Wildcard is like a fight, it's not a spar. We throw full-on power shots.
“I've proved I've probably got one of the best chins in the boxing business. I've been hit with huge shots in sparring.”
The seeds of doubt over Khan's vulnerability were sown well before he was flattened in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott in 2008.
Earlier visits to the canvas against the light punching Willie Limond and Michael Gomez had pointed to a fragility that was brutally confirmed by Prescott.
The defeat resulted in the appointment of Roach, who has since guided the WBA champion to seven successive victories, including the notable scalps of Marco Antonio Barrera, Paul Malignaggi and Maidana.
Under Roach he has yet to be knocked down but still he is forced to defend himself, though he insists the perception of his weakness has its benefits.
“People are still talking about my chin and crap like that, but let them think that,” he said.
“If I hadn't been knocked out by Prescott, people would have thought 'this guy's always going to win'. Fighters don't think I'm chinny, you just get a few fans who think like that.”