Amir Khan’s painful defeat – in all senses – against the unbeaten Terence Crawford has not deterred confidence he “can do it again” and rebound as a world champion.
Khan, 32, witnessed ambitions of claiming the WBO world welterweight belt end in bizarre fashion last month when an accidental low shot to the groin in the sixth round saw him pulled out by his corner. This followed a contest in which the pummelled rank outsider had already been sent to the canvas in the first and received several harsh body blows in the fourth.
The British pugilist was accused of prematurely quitting by several prominent voices, including probable next opponent Kell Brook who was ringside at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden.
But this dispiriting bout has not daunted Khan, who previously recovered from September 2008’s loss to Colombia’s Breidis Prescott to become unified light-welterweight world champion three years later and claimed the vacant WBC Silver interim light-welterweight strap in December 2012 after successive setbacks to Americans Lamont Petersen and Danny Garcia.
“Obviously the last fight was a little bit a difficult, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Khan, speaking ahead of Friday’s Knockout Night from Badou Jack Promotions at FIVE Palm Jumeirah Hotel.
“Hit with a low shot, but at the same time I’m not taking anything away from Terence Crawford. He’s up there with one of the best fighters in the world.
“I’m just going to go back to the drawing board. I’m still in the top 10 in the world.
“I want to fight someone in the top 10 for my next fight. Hopefully that will be in October or November time – I’m still active, I still feel strong.
“We’ve got names like Kell Brook there, still the top, top fighters there. I’m in a very lucky position that I have the opportunity to put bums on seats.
“TV networks like to see me fight and getting the top guys in the ring is quite easy. I’m still in a good position of getting the big names in, because we bring a lot of money to the table.
“I’m only 32-years-of-age, although I did say that this is the last chapter of my career. I want to fight maybe one or two more times and then maybe call it a day.
“It just depends what’s out there for me.
“I still have it in me. I still love the sport and I still work hard – I still feel like I’m up there.
“Mentally, I’m quite strong and I know I’ll always come back from defeats. I’ve been knocked out, I’ve come back and become world champion again – I’m sure I can do it again.”
Khan faced a monumental task to stop an elite American competitor currently ranked second by Ring magazine in its pound-for-pound top 10. Memories of his murderous knockout by Mexico superstar Canelo Alvarez in May 2016 are also raw – and harrowing.
These disappointments even led to calls that Khan should immediately call time on an undulating 38-fight, 14-year professional career from which estimated earnings of £30 million have been accumulated.
A love of the sport and dreams of prime time, however, remain undiminished from a boxer who first announced himself to a global audience aged 17 when he won silver at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
He said: “In the fight, I was still there. He [Crawford] was technically a very good fighter and I did find it quite hard to get to him.
“But I still think, maybe not against a Crawford… but I still feel I’m better than the guys like Danny Garcia, Lemont Peterson, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao.
“Those fights could be big, still.”
Brook’s name was a noticeable omission. Especially as a long-term rivalry between the pair has bubbled under since 2012.
Good luck champ I will be there to support. https://t.co/UvHMK9ghra— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) April 30, 2019
Khan was confident he would end an engaging ‘Battle of Britain’ in “six or seven rounds” should they, belatedly, meet.
“Kell Brook still excites,” he stated. “It’s a fight that’s always there.
“People say it’s a 50/50 fight, but I believe I would take out Kell Brook in six or seven rounds. That’s the fight that would be an easy sell.”
Since Bolton-born Khan’s successful United States debut against Paulie Malignaggi in May 2010, 11 of his 15 bouts have been across the Atlantic Ocean.
His last ‘mega fight’ on home soil was a fifth-round technical decision over bloodied ring legend Marco Antonio Barrera a decade ago at Manchester’s MEN Arena. This is an absence he intends to end this September or October against ex-IBF welterweight holder and Sheffield-native Brook.
Khan said: “I always wanted to do everything I wanted to do away from the UK in America, that’s the Mecca of boxing.
“I’ve done that now, I want to have my next fight in the UK. And if it’s Kell, it’s Kell.”
Amir Khan insisted he could not go on after a low blow brought his WBO welterweight title challenge against Terence Crawford to a crashing halt.
The fight was stopped in the sixth round at Madison Square Garden after the technical knockout, handing the American the right to retain the belt and raising a cacophony of boos for Khan.
Speaking to ESPN in the ring as jeers rained down, Khan said: “First of all I want to apologise to all of the fans. The fight was just getting interesting.
“Terence is a great fighter, you know I’m not taking anything away from him. I now realise why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“I’m a good boxer but he was showcasing great skill, great movement. I was caught with a shot right below the belt and I could feel it. I was in pain.”
Khan said he could feel the blow in his stomach and his legs “kind of seized” as a result.
He said: “I couldn’t continue, I could not continue. I’m not one to give up any fight. I’ll fight to the end, you have to knock me out to get me to give up you know. I was hit with a hard shot below the belt.”
Crawford was unequivocal that his shot was above the belt and the decision to withdraw was not Khan’s alone.
The Briton suffered a knockdown in the opening round and was taking regular punishment, struggling to stay in the contest and nursing what appeared to be an injury to his right hand.
He told ESPN in the ring: “First of all it wasn’t a low blow. And second of all (Khan’s trainer) Virgil (Hunter) knew the fight was going in a bad direction and saved his fighter before anything bad happened to him.”
Hunter said safety was a key concern and Khan was “incapacitated” by the shot, but suggested the Briton was starting to get into the fight.
The trainer told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The crowd will always be bloodthirsty and want to see a dramatic ending but you have to look out for the safety of the fighter. He’s not the kind of fighter to make things up. I believe he was incapacitated.
“We knew we were behind but Amir was starting to work things out and pick up his rhythm.”
As for Khan’s future, Hunter said his performance against Crawford was not “the type of beating that says he should retire”.
“He showed he could move – his legs aren’t gone – but he fought a hell of a champion tonight. I will be honest with him when I think it’s time to retire,” he said.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Amir Khan’s dream of finally proving himself one of the finest fighters in the world ended in a controversial defeat when he was stopped in the sixth round after a low blow by the great Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Fighting to also become a two-weight world champion by adding the WBO welterweight title to his impressive list of honours, Khan had long pursued this opportunity which has likely ended his career at the highest level, leaving him with few remaining lucrative options.
A domestic fight with long-term rival Kell Brook will appeal until either retires, but for the 32-year-old Khan – groomed for greatness since winning an Olympic silver medal in 2004 aged 17 – his successful time as an attraction in the US may have passed.
He suffered a knockdown in the opening round and was thereafter taking regular punishment, struggling to stay in the contest and nursing what appeared to be an injury to his right hand.
When Crawford then landed that horrendous low blow he appeared to be taking advantage of the opportunity to take a lengthy recovery.
The fight was instead strangely stopped after 47 seconds of the sixth when his corner indicated he could no longer continue, despite him being entitled to far longer before fighting on.
Alongside Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko, Crawford has long been considered one of the world’s two leading fighters, and he demonstrated why by largely easing in front until then.
Khan’s finest chance came in him rediscovering the composure and discipline with which he excelled in once beating Devon Alexander and Luis Collazo before that devastating knockout by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, in the hope that his speed and volume would prove too much for Crawford to negate.
Instead the champion, 31, effortlessly used his ring IQ and sense of distance and timing to read Khan and essentially take control from that first-round knockdown.
Khan had made an encouraging start when he landed with his still-impressive speed, but he was hurt by a powerful right hand and then floored by a left hook, and thereafter largely left clinging on.
Instead of pursuing the immediate stoppage Crawford remained measured, and continued to instead pick his challenger off.
In the fourth he hurt Khan to both head and body, threatening to stop him on his feet, and while Khan typically fought back he lacked the same conviction and it was around then that he began to struggle with his right hand.
Further lefts and rights troubled Khan as he unexpectedly resisted another knockdown in the fifth but in the sixth – after he had already complained to his trainer Virgil Hunter about his hand – came the low blow that, while sickening, also represented an unsatisfactory conclusion and prompted boos.
A fifth defeat – and the fourth inside the distance – demonstrated there is little question that Khan is a fighter in decline. Regardless of whether he fights on, it may be the nature of this stoppage and no longer that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao eluded him when he was at his peak, that proves his biggest regret.
There were earlier convincing victories for promising Americans Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez, taking each closer to fighting for a world title. Stevenson earned a unanimous decision over 10 rounds against Christopher Diaz, and Lopez stopped Edis Tatli in five.
Provided by Press Association Sport