Amir Khan expects to go on to become a multi-weight world champion after trainer Freddie Roach backed him to emulate friend and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.
Khan, who began his professional career at lightweight but moved up to become WBA light-welterweight champion in the summer, has enjoyed an astonishing turnaround in fortunes since teaming up with Roach and sparring partner Pacquiao.
In September last year he was blown apart in a huge upset defeat by unknown Colombian Breidis Prescott. After immediately relocating to California to join Roach's stable, however, he has bounced back in style, defeating legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera before claiming Andreas Kotelnik's WBA belt in July.
Roach believes the 22-year-old from Bolton has yet to fully fill out and expects him to follow six-weight world champion Pacquiao by eventually claiming world honours in multiple divisions.
And ahead of tonight's maiden title defence against Dmitriy Salita, Kahn agreed: “In the future I'm looking at moving up in weights, putting in some great performances and putting British boxing back on the map again.
“We'll see how my weight goes but at the moment I've got this weight and the next weight, welterweight. Then we'll see where we go from there.”
Highly-respected trainer Roach concurs. “He has the body and frame to move up in weight for sure, 135lbs (lightweight) was okay but I like him much better at 140lbs (light-welterweight).
“And as he goes on and matures a little bit, he'll definitely be a welterweight (147lbs) and maybe end up in the middleweights some day, I would say.”
Khan weighed in half a pound under the 10-stone limit while Ukraine-born New Yorker Salita was on the limit. The young Englishman has boxed in many of Britain's major cities but will be making his north-east debut at the Metro Radio Arena tonight.
“I'd never been to Newcastle, the first time I went was for the press conference and I think it will be amazing.
“The fight's going to be a sell-out, no doubt, and I think the Newcastle fans love a big show like this. They'll be excited, on the edge of their seats on the night. It's going to be very exciting from the first bell. They can't blink.
“Winning the world title is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me.”
“It's made me more hungry to win more things in this game and it brings something out in you because you know you've got something there which you have to look after. “