Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Amir Khan to get back on top of world

Amir Khan is in great shape for this weekend's fight with Luis Collazo
Amir Khan is in great shape for this weekend's fight with Luis Collazo

Amir Khan is confident he will show the world how much he has improved in his year out of the ring when he goes toe-to-toe with tricky southpaw Luis Collazo in Las Vegas this weekend.

The Bolton fighter had been hoping to take on Floyd Mayweather but will instead box on his undercard after the American decided to fight Argentinian bruiser Marcos Maidana.

After several setbacks which saw the 27-year-old former unified light-welterweight world champion endure a frustrating 12 months and pass up the opportunity to take on Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title in December, Khan believes he will come back stronger.

The last time he entered the ring was last April in Sheffield when he defeated Julio Diaz.

"It was a difficult time," said Khan. "But the fact is I moved on fairly quick when I knew the Mayweather shot wasn't happening.

"It was just about refocusing my mind on the next opponent and luckily we were able to announce Luis Collazo straight away which allowed me the chance to get back in the ring as soon as possible.

"I wanted a tough challenge at welterweight and not just to go in there against some average guy. Collazo is a legitimate welterweight who is very confident after his win against Victor Ortiz but I know I have the tools to beat him."

Khan has spent time working with highly-rated American trainer Virgil Hunter over the last year in San Francisco and thinks it will give him the edge to beat Collazo.

"You're going to see an improved Amir Khan, the best Amir Khan, there's no doubt in my mind about that," he said.

"Over the last 12 months I've been in camps with Virgil and we've been working on certain aspects of my game that I never really got the chance to work on because I just didn't get the time as I was fighting so often.

"Through the last few months I've been focusing on improving myself and adding certain things to my game. Because I didn't have an opponent lined up and I wasn't fighting I had the time to look at myself and work on things I wanted to work on.

"On May 3 I'm going to put that all into practice on the biggest stage and not only beat Collazo but look to beat him in real style."

Collazo, meanwhile, knows the fight against Khan could make or break his career.

The 33-year-old said: "This fight is my whole career right in front of me. I believe if I beat Amir Khan I have a bigger future in boxing and if I don't, I have to start from the bottom again.

"I am not looking beyond Amir Khan. He is my main focus. From here whatever happens happens, but Amir Khan is all I'm thinking about right now.

"A win over Khan does put me in the Mayweather sweepstakes, but my sights are set on Khan."

Meanwhile, Kevin Mitchell will face Ghislain Maduma on the Carl Froch-George Groves bill at Wembley for the right to fight for a world title.

Mitchell's contest against the unbeaten Canadian is the latest addition to the May 31 undercard and will serve as an IBF lightweight title eliminator, with the winner going on to challenge Miguel Vazquez.

Londoner Mitchell's previous world title fight ended in defeat to Ricky Burns in 2012, but promoter Eddie Hearn is confident his man has the tools to dethrone Marquez – if he gets that far.

"This fight carries huge risk but also huge rewards," said Hearn.

"I strongly believe that Kevin can beat Vazquez but he has a massive test in Maduma. Kevin is ready to enter deep waters – it's going to be a cracking fight."

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