In an interview with Chris Robinson of the Examiner, trainer Virgil Hunter says he believes that Amir Khan can still be a top fighter, despite two straight losses, a bad chin, and a growing legion of fans who doubt that Khan will ever get to the elite level.
"Amir Khan, without a doubt, is extremely talented. Of course, in my personal opinion, there are reasons why he has been in some of the predicaments that he’s been in but those predicaments are easily recognized and they are easily eliminated out of his repertoire. ... People are really quick to put labels on you. I see a kid who takes a pretty damn good punch; it’s the decisions after he takes the punch that cost him. It’s part of boxing. People don’t realize that Ezzard Charles was knocked out seven times. Joe Louis was knocked out. It goes on and on."
Hunter adds that offensively, Khan is a threat to anyone he faces, and I think most of us can agree with that, save for people who just don't think he's any damn good at all, which, you know, I'm sure those people do exist. Everyone's a "bum."
[ Related: Khan returns Dec. 15 on Showtime ]
Anyway, if anyone is going to be able to "fix" Amir Khan, to take him to a higher level than he's been -- and he's been and remains at a high level, without question -- Virgil Hunter is as good a choice to any. He's not saying he's totally in as Khan's trainer, but he is -- it's just a dotting the i's situation, I'm guessing. Hunter is a totally different trainer than Freddie Roach, which isn't meant as any disrespect to Roach, but the things Khan needs aren't Roach's strengths, and everyone knows that.
Roach recently expressed some concern about anyone being able to change Khan, though:
"[Khan and Hunter] 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."
This is the part that's up to Amir Khan -- the old lead a horse to water gag. Virgil Hunter might have every tool needed to get Amir Khan ready and take him to that top, true elite level. He might be just the right guy to help Khan see the light and make the fixes. But if Khan can't change in the ring, and not just in the gym, then Khan will remain Khan. And changing a fighter's -- or anyone's, really -- true style, true nature is the hardest thing of all, and in some cases, probably impossible.
Is Khan impossible? I don't know. We'll find out, because this is probably the last time anyone's going to buy into the idea that a trainer can change him. If it doesn't work this time, it's just not going to happen, and he'll always be Amir Khan, the really good fighter with the really huge vulnerabilities.