Amir Khan has credited trainer Freddie Roach for the turnaround in his career as he prepared to defend his WBA light welterweight title yesterday.
American Roach, who suffers from Parkinson’s syndrome, began working with Khan after the Briton was humiliated in a first-round knockout defeat by unheralded Colombian Breidis Prescott two years ago.
“I used to make mistakes before, never listen to instructions in the corner, never listen to my trainer’s game plan,” Khan told reporters ahead of the fight against Marcos Maidana of Argentina. “But with Freddie I believe in everything he says. I listen to his instructions and I’ve never put a foot wrong. Since I’ve been with him, I don’t think I’ve lost a single round in a fight, in the last five fights.”
With Roach’s help, Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) has registered five straight victories, including a first-round knockout of his own and won the WBA title.
“My dream has always been to fight in Vegas, have my name lit up on the Strip,” Khan told reporters this week.
“If I want to be the champion I say I am, I have to win fights like this,” Khan said. “I have to leave a statement in the States. I want to get people talking about me, to start looking forward to my fights over here. Fighting in Las Vegas, and beating somebody as good as Maidana, is the only way to do that.”
Roach, who has been named Trainer of the Year four times by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America, mostly for his work with Filipino Manny Pacquiao, has suffered from Parkinson’s for 20 years.
Although doctors have told him that he probably had a genetic disposition toward the condition, the 50-year-old Roach acknowledges that his own boxing career — in which he went 40-13 between 1978 and 1986 and continued to fight after his own trainer had urged him to quit — almost certainly played a considerable role.
Roach is in almost constant pain from the condition and has Botox injections three times a year to ease the muscle spasms in his neck.
“I have the smoothest neck in Los Angeles,” he frequently jokes.
The most powerful remedy, however, appears to be his work. This week, Roach’s tremors were evident as he wrapped Khan’s hands in preparation for a public workout. Once he stepped into the ring with his fighter, however, his movements were fluid and his condition barely evident.