Belfast Telegraph

Amir Khan set to move up in the world

WBA champion Amir Khan has vowed to unify the light-welterweight division next year once he has dealt with dangerous mandatory challenger Marcos Maidana tomorrow night.

The Briton defends his belt against Argentinian banger Maidana at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas tonight his third outing as WBA champion.

The Maidana clash follows just one other in 2010 — a late stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi in New York in May - and is his second in the United States.

Next year he will set his sights on collecting other portions of the 10 stone crown, with WBC champion Devon Alexander and WBO holder Timothy Bradley taking the plunge by facing each other in January. Then, he believes he can move up in weight and emulate his sparring partner and friend Manny Pacquiao.

Khan said: “I want to get the mandatory against Maidana out of the way and then next year unify the division.

“I'll take it from there, really. I've got the style to move up through the divisions and I've got the body to move up. I think I'll probably be a better fighter at welterweight.

“Being a unified, multi-weight world champion is what I dreamed of. I think the highest I could go to is probably light-middleweight.

“Hopefully I'll be cleaning this division up then moving up and fighting for a title at welterweight before another at light-middleweight, pushing for that.

“I think I've got the skills and everything. I'm with the right team as well and I'm sure they can take me that way.”

Khan has been accused of avoiding Maidana before now, with the South American's power highly rated and the Englishman's chin highly questioned.

The Bolton fighter has been floored several times in his career and was written off as a top-level fighter when Colombian Breidis Prescott destroyed him in a minute two years ago.

However, 24-year-old Khan believes he has answered questions about his chin and can prove its strength once and for all tomorrow.

“I think Maidana has got power, his record says it all,” he said.

“In the Prescott fight I made mistakes. That was two and a bit years ago and since then, so much

has changed. I've been thinking about it and I've moved up a division. I used to kill myself making the weight (at lightweight) so that makes you weak and reduces your punch resistance.

“Since I've been up at 140lbs I've been sparring guys who are 154, 160lbs and they can't even touch me.

“Sparring with Manny, he's hitting me with his best shots and I've not gone down in sparring ever. So I think it was just the weight-making, really.

“When I beat Maidana, I'm sure I'm going to shut everyone up. Manny's sparred with me, he's hit me with his best shot and I've never gone down or been wobbled. It's one of those things that motivates you when people speak badly of you.”

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