LOS ANGELES – Amir Khan said he’s excited about the prospect of fighting Timothy Bradley but won’t be lured into overlooking Paul McCloskey, his opponent on April 16 in Manchester, England.
Khan believes the unbeaten Irishman will be highly motivated and feed off passionate backing from his enthusiastic countrymen back home and those who travel to the M.E.N. Arena.
“McCloskey is no joke,” said Khan, sitting ringside at the Fight Night Club card Thursday in Los Angeles. “People are saying this guy will be easy to beat, a walkover and everything. First of all, he’s the European champion. And when you’re European champion, you want to go one better. And one better is a world title.
“This is a big opportunity for him. … He’s got nothing to lose. And when a fighter has nothing to lose, he’ll come in and try everything he’s got.”
Khan (24-1, 17 knockouts) has always said that difficulty in making weight and an improper training regimet were the primary reasons he was stopped in one round by Breidis Prescott in 2008, one of the more-stunning upsets in recent years.
The Briton said Thursday that he also had looked past the Colombian.
“At the end of the day, boxing is a tough sport,” he said. “You can’t underestimate a fighter. I always feel like the challenger. I always give it my all because I know what could happen. One punch can change a fight.
“McCloskey had 12 fights he won by KO. He can punch.”
Khan, who has begun training for McCloskey (22-0) with Freddie Roach in Hollywood, is coming off his unforgettable victory over Marcos Maidana in December in which he barely survived after he was badly hurt by a big right in the 10th round.
Some wonder what toll such a taxing victory might’ve taken. Khan dismisses such a notion, saying he feels great.
“I was good after three days,” he said, referring to the time he needed to recover. “I read people saying that Amir Khan won’t be the same fighter. I think the Maidana fight made me a better fighter; it gave me more confidence. It proved to me that what I’m doing in the gym is working for me, the skill I have is working for me. All I want to do is improve on what I have.
“People say I won’t be the same as I used to be, that (the Maidana fight) took a lot out of me. I’m 24. I’m young. My body heals quickly. I was back in training camp within three months.”
Khan was willing to discuss the prospect of fighting Bradley, an exciting matchup that would determine the best 140-pounder in the world.
The sides already have agreed on a basic framework for a July 23 matchup and are working out the details. He said the fight is “definitely going to happen” and he’s confused by comments attributed to Bradley that he is trying to avoid him.
“I never once said I don’t want to fight him,” Khan said. “I don’t know where he got that (rubbish). I’d love to fight him. I’ll be the first to beat him.”
Khan respects the fact that Bradley is undefeated, which obviously says something about his ability, but isn’t overly impressed with his American rival.
“Bradley makes a lot of mistakes that people don’t capitalize on. And I will,” he said.
“He cocks his punches sometimes,” Khan said. “And he throws quick punches, punches with no power. It seems when he’s under pressure he flicks his shots. That’s the time to catch him, when he flicks his shots.
“And I don’t know why nobody has put him back on his feet, pushed him back. I think I can do that.”
And what about the perception by some that Bradley uses his head as a weapon?
“If wants to come in head first, he’ll get hit so hard … he’ll get hurt,” Khan said.
Khan said he was impressed by Nonito Donaire’s knockout of Fernando Montiel on Saturday and understands why the Filipino-born American entered most Top 10 pound-for-pound lists as a result.
Someone suggested a victory over Bradley probably would do the same for him.
“I think so,” he said. “Bradley is a recognized fighter. Bradley is No. 1 (junior welterweight), I’m No. 2. I want to prove I’m No. 1 in the division. And I think I could be in the Top 10 after beating him.”
Of course, he has to get past McCloskey first.