Amir Khan gets another shot at glory on Saturday night, as he faces Terence Crawford in the main event at Madison Square Garden, live on ESPN pay-per-view.
Khan (33-4, 20 KO) is the huge underdog against the three-division titleholder Crawford (34-0, 25 KO), who will be defending the WBO welterweight title in the bout. And through all his experiences in his 14-year pro career, Khan says this one is as big as it’s gotten.
“This definitely ranks at the top for me,” Khan said. “Fighting a world champion, Terence is very high in the pound-for-pound rankings, maybe No. 1 or No. 2. It’s just amazing for me to be in this position once again.
“That in itself is a great motivation for me, to know I’m fighting the best out there once again. It makes me train harder, work harder, and focus for this fight. I know I can’t make any mistakes in this fight because I could be in trouble.”
Khan says he’s extensively scouted Crawford in preparation for Saturday.
“I’ve been watching all the videos of his fights. I see how he breaks down fighters, how he sees openings and stuff, and I can’t be making those openings easy,” he said.
In his last outing, Khan was dropped in the second round by Samuel Vargas, and mostly played it safe after that, winning a clear decision. He admits that wasn’t his best night, but thinks it may have played a role in landing this chance.
“Maybe my last performance got me this fight,” he said. “To me, that wasn’t the best performance, that wasn’t the best Amir Khan. I’m now back with my old trainer Virgil, where I’m happy. He trains me the best, he knows me better than any other trainer out there. We know we’ve done everything we have to do for this fight, and I’m going to be more than ready.”
Khan spoke further about reuniting with trainer Virgil Hunter, and how he feels that makes him a better fighter.
“I’ve had some good fights in the welterweight division. We fought Collazo, we fought Alexander, he’s brought the best out of me,” he said. “Even the Canelo fight was going well until I got caught with a shot, whereas this fight I’m fighting someone my own weight, which helps.
“Every fight with Virgil, I learn something from, win or lose. He’s brought the best out of me. I needed to get back with somebody who could bring that respect back for the sport of boxing and also make me work harder.”
Hunter, in his time with the microphone during the presser, echoed that Khan cannot afford to make a mistake.
“He most definitely can’t have a mental lapse,” Hunter said. “He has to be focused every second of every round and be able to read the adjustments that a great fighter like Crawford will make. He’s a fighter who’s good at making adjustments. We have to be able to read those adjustments and adjust accordingly to stay competitive and try to win this fight.”
All things considered, this could be the last chance for the 32-year-old Khan to reach the true top tier of the sport, and he seems to be embracing that.
“This is a dream come true, and hopefully on Saturday the dream will come true, as I get my opportunity to fight for another world title and to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” he said.
“This just drives me, makes me work harder, train harder, stay focused, because I know I’ve got someone in front of me who’s number one. We can’t deny that. He’s a good fighter. I know he’s training hard because he doesn’t want to lose that unbeaten record, and I don’t want to lose this fight because I want to achieve everything I want in the sport of boxing.”