LOS ANGELES (AFP) – British boxer Amir Khan is desperate to make up for lost time when he finally steps into the ring on Saturday in Las Vegas to face the American southpaw Devon Alexander.
“Devon’s got me at my best time. I am going to be more ready than I was last year,” said Khan, who will wear boxing’s “most expensive shorts” – white nappa leather, silk and featuring a waistband made of 24-carat gold thread.
Khan, who turned 28 on Monday and has among the fastest hands in boxing, was originally scheduled to fight the dangerous Alexander for the International Boxing Federation welterweight title last December in New York.
But the Briton scrapped the bout because he thought he had a chance at landing a blockbuster showdown with Floyd Mayweather that never came off.
Alexander then lost the title to Shawn Porter, and Khan’s fellow Brit Kell Brook snatched it from Porter in August.
Even though there is no title on the line this time at the MGM Grand Hotel, Khan (29-3, 19 KOs) sees Saturday as a stepping stone to bigger paydays and a chance to show off his improved defensive skills.
“It didn’t happen last December because obviously we changed a few things and I was hoping for the big fight against Floyd and that fell through,” said the former IBF and World Boxing Association light welterweight world champ.
“You can’t compare the Amir Khan 12 months ago to the Amir Khan now, I am way ahead. I am much better and much smarter.”
Khan and former two-division champion Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs) will square off in a 12-round non-title welterweight bout.
Khan is coming off a victorious welterweight debut in May, when he looked sharp in a unanimous decision over former champion Luis Collazo.
That bout was on the undercard of Mayweather’s fight against Marcos Maidana and saw Khan quickly shake off any rust from a 12-month ring absence in impressive fashion.
Both have made some special plans for this fight. Khan will be wearing his $31,000 trunks, while Alexander, who is from St. Louis, Missouri, will have as a guest the father of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot dead by a policeman in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Khan has been training in Oakland, California, with Virgil Hunter since September. Khan says in 13 weeks of training he has sparred 162 rounds.
Hiring Hunter as his trainer is the best career move he has ever made, says Khan, resulting in three straight victories.
Khan’s critics say he has a glass chin so Hunter has been trying to improve his defence.
“When I put an attack together there has to be a way out or there has to be a way to stay out of trouble during that assault,” said Khan.
“You can still be exciting, throw a lot of punches, but you have to be careful at the same time.”