Amir Khan, maybe with one eye on a future date with Floyd Mayweather Jr, has refused to condemn the new WBC welterweight titleholder over his controversial fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz this past weekend.
Indeed, Khan, the WBA and IBF junior welterweight champion, admits he would have done exactly the same.
“You’ve got adrenaline pumping in the body and every fighter, when in the boxing ring, must always defend himself,” said the 24-year-old from Bolton, England. “You are there to fight. What Mayweather did in there was right, in my opinion. The ref did say, ’box on’.
“He might not have been looking at the two fighters, because he was looking outside the ring to check the clock was ticking, and that’s when Mayweather hit Ortiz with a left hook and a right hand.
“But even when he was hit with the first shot, the left hook, you could see Ortiz looking over at the referee — maybe thinking it was a foul and that he hadn‘t said, ‘box on’ — whereas really his hands should have gone straight up and he should have defended himself.
“Just before the knockout, Ortiz went in with his head. The reason he did that was because he was frustrated at not getting through the defenses of Mayweather. He had to try and hit him somehow. In a way, I think that’s when Mayweather thought, ’right, this is fight night and, you know what, I am going to teach this kid a lesson’.”
Despite his support for Mayweather, Khan, who meets IBF mandatory challenger Lamont Peterson on December 10 (venue to be confirmed), was less complimentary about his post-fight comments regarding a possible showdown with Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather claimed Pacquiao needs him more than he needs Pacquiao.
“I really think he is ducking him because Manny Pacquiao is a huge name in America. He gets huge pay-per-view numbers and, whoever he fights, he sells out the arena,” Khan said. “But I heard Mayweather versus Ortiz wasn’t even a sell out and there were a lot of tickets left. If that was Manny it would have been sold out straight away.
“I think Mayweather comes out with a lot of excuses. That’s what makes him. A lot of people hate him and watch him, wanting him to get beat. But there are a lot of people who love him as well. That’s just his character.”
As for his own chances of facing Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts), Khan, who will move up to welterweight in 2012, is focussing solely on the threat of Peterson (29-1-1, 15 knockouts).
“The pressure is on me because a lot of people keep talking about the big fights that are out there for me. But I can’t look that far ahead,” said Khan (26-1, 18 KOs). “I know I have to win against Peterson so it opens up doors and leads to bigger fights in the future. Peterson will be a tough fight. He got a draw with Ortiz and is the IBF mandatory challenger. I never go into any fight thinking it will be easy.”