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Khan hails wife's influence in camp for crunch fight

 

Uphill battle: Amir Khan is a big underdog in New York
Uphill battle: Amir Khan is a big underdog in New York

By Declan Taylor

Should Amir Khan send a shockwave through world boxing by beating Terence Crawford in Manhattan tonight, the Bolton man will have more to thank his wife Faryal Makhdoom for than usual.

However, after assuming the role of camp manager for her husband's California preparation over the last few months, Khan says his wife is ready to walk out on him just as quickly as she took the job in the first place.

"I've got to take my hat off to her," said Khan from a room deep inside Madison Square Garden. "She did everything, man.

"It's the first time and she made sure she did everything right. She's managed everything. Without her it would have been very difficult."

With a three-weight world champion and arguably the planet's best boxer in Crawford waiting for him tonight, it might seem like a strange time for Khan (32) to make such a drastic change inside his team.

But he says despite a smooth camp at his trainer Virgil Hunter's gym in the Bay Area of San Francisco, his wife will not be taking the reins again regardless of the result at the Garden tonight.

The couple had their youngest daughter Alayna with them but their eldest, Lamaisah, remained back in Bolton and went to school as usual.

"Because it was such a strain, she said it would be her first and last camp," Khan said with a wry smile.

"We left our little girl at home and she said she can't do that again because it was so hard.

"If she didn't have school, she would have been with us.

"She's here now though. I saw her for the first time after three months and I couldn't believe she has grown so tall and she is speaking to me in full sentences.

"She was on the plane telling everyone that her daddy is going to punch the other guy in the face.

"I told her not to be saying that because people will think I'm some kind of crazy nutter.

"Normally I don't like my wife around when I'm training, but I'm glad I had her in camp with me and my little girl too."

Although he may not care to admit it, tonight might just represent Khan's last chance to win a world title again having previously held the IBF and WBA light-welterweight belts.

Bookmakers here in the Big Apple, or in fact anywhere, don't give Khan much hope of taking the WBO welterweight title from the man currently vying with Vasyl Lomachenko for the No.1 spot in the pound-for-pound picture. But Crawford's outspoken trainer Brian McIntyre, affectionately known as BoMac, insists there is no chance that his brilliant charge will be taking anything for granted.

Indeed, so seriously have they taken the challenge of Khan, that they conducted some of their preparation at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

"We wanted to work on his hand-eye co-ordination because Khan's got fast hands," said BoMac.

"We just wanted to make him a little bit more aware.

"The drill is little lights come on and he has to follow the lights, stuff they do for the pilots.

"We've never done anything like that to prepare for previous opponents and I've already seen the improvements from it."

But although nobody inside Team Crawford appears to be overlooking their English opponent, McIntyre was emphatic when asked to predict how tonight might end.

"I remember Amir Khan when he won the silver medal and then when he came over here to fight. I started paying attention to him when he started beating Zab Judah and Devon Alexander," he said.

"I thought 'this dude is pretty good'.

"I looked at his hand speed and it was way, way off the radar.

"But he's not the same nowadays.

"He's just slower and he fights more kind of scared because he's scared to get touched on his chin."

McIntyre was making reference to the three crushing inside-distance defeats that Khan has suffered during his 14 years as a professional.

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