Amir Khan turned his attention to a fight with fellow Briton Kell Brook after beating Phil Lo Greco in 39 seconds on a devastating return to the ring at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
It had been two years since Khan last fought, when he was brutally knocked out by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, but he made up for lost time by swiftly seeing off Canadian Lo Greco with a first-round knockout.
Lo Greco first hit the canvas when Khan caught him flush with a right and, though he got back up, it was soon over as the 31-year-old’s flurry of left hands forced the end.
Khan displayed no ring rust following his hiatus and showed the hand speed which once won him a world title had also not slowed.
It was also an emphatic message to one of his bitter rivals watching from ringside.
Brook was booed by the crowd when shown on the big screens and when he came inside the ropes after the contest, he was assured Khan was coming for him next.
“I want to become a world champion again so I want to fight the top guys in the welterweight division,” Khan told Sky Sports Main Event.
“I’m a 147lb fighter. I moved up to 150lb for this fight because I’ve not been in the ring for two years. That (Brook) fight I’m not rushing and I’m not running away from.
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) April 22, 2018
“I will fight Kell Brook and I will beat Kell Brook. I’m a better fighter and a stronger fighter.
“I’m not a fighter to run away. I came to Eddie (Hearn) and signed a deal with your promotional company, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom company. I’m chasing you, remember that.”
Khan was clearly not in the mood for lengthy exchanges in the ring as he left after addressing Brook before his foe could respond to him.
Brook then goaded Khan for his stint on reality television show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!.
“He’s just run off, he doesn’t want the fight,” Brook added.
“All the fans want the fight. I want the fight. He can go in the jungle and chase stars but when he gets in there with me I’ll make him see stars!”
The possibility of Brook and Khan meeting in the ring was enhanced when the latter buried the hatchet with Hearn and signed a three-fight deal with Matchroom in January.
Hearn had warned Khan he could not afford a fifth professional loss if he wanted more high-profile bouts, and his fighter’s performance in Liverpool will only have made him a more attractive proposition when he reaches negotiating tables.
— Rambo (@WelshRamsey) April 21, 2018
“What a great performance from Amir Khan; he’s back,” Hearn said.
“People ask me, ‘Has he still got the speed?’ I think he might be quicker!
“I would love the Brook-Khan fight, we’ll have to see. Kell Brook will be back in the ring in July. He’s chasing the 154(lb) world champions but that fight will always be a big fight.
“I would hate for one day these boys to get old and one day look back and kick themselves for not making this fight. The British public want to see Khan against Brook and we should deliver what the British public want.
“Kell Brook doesn’t like Amir Khan. Amir Khan doesn’t like Kell Brook. This fight should have happened 12 months ago, two years ago. We’ve still got time. Let’s not regret it.”
Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao insisted Friday that his advancing years were no barrier to success as he gears up for a showdown against world champion Lucas Matthysse.
Pacquiao, 39, will fight the Argentine — four years his junior — for the World Boxing Association welterweight belt on July 15 in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Filipino has won an unprecedented eight world titles in different weight classes but some have raised questions about his ability to box at the top of his game due to his age.
But at a joint press conference with Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, he dismissed such concerns.
“It’s not about a number, it’s not about age, that doesn’t matter,” he said.
“It depends how you discipline yourself in training, how you prepare.”
Pacquiao said that the fight against Matthysse would not be his last, as he wants the final bout of his career to take place in his homeland.
“Definitely this is not my last fight,” he said. “I think I still have got a couple of more fights (until I) retire.”
Pacquiao is currently a senator in the Philippine parliament and many in the country believe he will one day run for president, although the boxer has insisted he is happier in the ring than politics.
He conceded that it was “not easy” to juggle being a top-level boxer and politician.
Matthysse — who took the vacant WBA welterweight title in January — has expressed confidence that he can beat Pacquiao, describing the Filipino as a diminished star.
VIDEO World champion Lucas Matthysse vows a fight "to the death" in his July title defence against Manny Pacquiao, winner of eight unprecedented world titles in different weight classes pic.twitter.com/GEi2oyLCqt— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) April 18, 2018
At Friday’s press conference, he said he was a “pretty big puncher with both hands, so that gives me a lot of confidence”.
Pacquiao has not fought since he lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown in a shock points defeat to Australia’s Jeff Horn last year, and has not knocked out an opponent in nearly nine years.
The Kuala Lumpur bout will likely mark the first time in 15 years that Pacquiao will be fighting without his long-standing US trainer Freddie Roach, who expressed hurt last week after saying ties have been cut.
The boxer has suggested that role might go to his own friend and compatriot Buboy Fernandez, at least for the Matthysse bout.
Amir Khan is looking forward to riding the wave of interest in British boxing generated by the likes of world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when he fights in the UK for the first time in five years.
Khan faces Phil Lo Greco of Canada in Liverpool on Saturday 23 months after he was beaten by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas, having stepped up two divisions to middleweight, and five years since he last fought on home soil against Julio Diaz in Sheffield.
London 2012 Olympic champion Joshua had yet to start his professional career then but Khan, who has put aside differences with the heavyweight’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, to sign a three-fight deal has been impressed by what he’s seen.
“You look at these great fighters like Joshua cleaning up, doing really well, knocking guys out, selling out stadiums and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is where I want to be again’,” Khan told a press conference on Thursday.
“I’ve done it in the past and I want to do it again. I know I’ve got a style where the crowd will come and watch me and want to see me.”
The 31-year-old added: “Fighters like Joshua out there give you that inspiration to come out and do well and sell out stadiums again.
“British boxing was really dying and Eddie’s brought it back alive again. I remember the days when I used to fight in America all the time because in Britain, boxing wasn’t as big as what we wanted it to be.”
Meanwhile Lo Greco insisted the 2004 Olympic silver medallist’s best days are behind.
“I was a fan, I think you’ve done great,” Lo Greco told Khan at the press conference. I’ve studied your boxing. I honestly believe your best years are done, I think your best years were in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and it’s going to show on Saturday night.”