Andre Ward says that trainer Virgil Hunter is a great fit for Amir Khan, and that he's got no problem with their new working relationship. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Andre Ward will soon be sharing a trainer with Amir Khan, and says that he not only has no problem with the idea, but that he believes reigning Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter will be a tremendous fit for Khan stylistically:
"I think Amir Khan is a good fit for Virgil and Virgil is a good fit for Amir because Virgil is great with tall fighters and giving them a concept of defense. Not only defense, but the best defense for that fighter. And Amir is already a dynamite fighter offensively and I think the defensive improvements are going to help him a whole lot."
Ward (26-0, 14 KO) has risen into the pound-for-pound elite discussion following his domination of the Super Six World Boxing Classic and his emphatic win over Chad Dawson on September 8, while Khan (26-3, 18 KO) has lost his last two fights under trainer Freddie Roach.
The big part of the Khan-Roach split that everyone is talking about is Amir's team asking Roach to drop Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in order to keep Khan in his stable, which Roach pretty obviously and easily refused to do. But Ward says he's got no concerns that Khan or his team will make a similar request of Hunter, and he's sure that the trainer and fighter discussed that before coming to an agreement.
Khan has made no secret of the fact -- both verbally and, you know, by being seen in the ring -- that he needs serious defensive work to protect his mediocre chin. When interviewed recently at a Pacquiao-Marquez IV press conference, Roach said he's not sure Khan can ever really change, even saying all the right things:
"I think Virgil's technically a very good trainer, with the work he's done with Andre Ward. They look like a good fit. Can somebody change another person? I don't think so. I've been trying to get Amir to settle down for a long time now with no success. He likes to exchange a lot. I don't think that's going to change, but I wish him the best."
All Roach is really saying is something that has been said a million times about a million people in a million situations: People are who they are, and when push comes to shove, it seems Roach expects Amir Khan, in the ring and not the gym, will always be drawn into slugfests, or in other words, the exact wrong fight.
But Virgil Hunter is a man worth seeking out if you want that to change. His work with guys like Brandon Gonzales and Fernando Guerrero is still in progress, but obviously, Andre Ward has become a top fighter under his care. And while Ward is a special fighter with a great pedigree and abnormal intelligence, Khan has the tools to be a top fighter, apart from what he needs to improve. It has been done before, saving a talent before he goes kaboom with no return. But it's never easy, and Hunter will have his work cut out for him, no doubt about that.
Khan is due to return on December 15, but that could change, as nothing has been finalized or seriously discussed for the date.