British boxer Amir Khan believes the fear factor could help him score a shock victory next month when he steps up in weight to face Mexico’s WBC middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas.
Khan, 29, raised eyebrows across the boxing world earlier this year after announcing his May 7 fight at the T-Mobile Arena against Alvarez, the hard-hitting 25-year-old from Guadalajara.
It represents a risky move for Khan, who has never previously fought above the welterweight limit of 147 pounds (66.7kg). Alvarez is the overwhelming favorite with most oddsmakers.
However, Khan, who is now based in San Francisco with trainer Virgil Hunter, believes facing an opponent as challenging as Alvarez can bring out the best in him.
“Obviously, we don’t want to walk into a fight and get hurt,” said Khan, who is 31-3 since turning professional after winning a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 17.
“By me taking this fight, I will be more focused. I know I can’t make mistakes against this guy,” Khan said in a conference call. “I’ve made mistakes in the past at other weights because I thought I was more gifted than them, I knew I was more skilled and a better fighter than them guys. They can be my worst opponents because I don’t really have that fear element, but when you’re fighting someone who is tough, dangerous, it is going to be a tough fight and that is what brings my ‘A’ game out.”
Khan is unbeaten in five fights, with the last of his three defeats a fourth-round technical knockout by Danny Garcia in 2012.
The British boxer said that being an underdog against Alvarez will suit him, confident that his hand speed and elusiveness can help against a naturally stronger opponent.
“I know I’m not going to be stronger than him,” Khan said. “It’s the first fight I’m walking into as the underdog and that’s good. Because I can prove to people that this is where I belong.”
Hunter said he was reluctant to accept the bout when it was first made.
“I wasn’t for the fight. What changed my outlook on it was Amir’s response to me when I asked him why did he want this fight and his response to me was quite assuring: that he understood what he was going up against and what he was getting into,” Hunter said. “I don’t view Amir as an underdog. I’d be doing him a disservice if I viewed him as an underdog. I view him as the top dog.”
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