When Amir Khan takes on Luis Collazo this Saturday night in Las Vegas the recurring theme will be that of change. The British star will be competing at full welterweight for the first time in his career and his mind, he insists, will be free from the distractions which have plagued him in recent years.
Khan, THE RING’s No. 3-rated junior welterweight, has made mistakes during combat, and paid the price, but there is one flaw, outside the ropes, that he seems eager to leave behind. The former Olympic silver medalist has been guilty of taking his eye off pending opponents to gaze, through the rosiest of tinted Prada glasses, at a flashier and more flamboyant target.
Prior to bouts against Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia and Julio Diaz, Khan would dutifully answer questions on why his speedy athletic style would trouble Floyd Mayweather Jr., only for the trapdoor to open and swallow him whole.
Peterson defeated Khan on points, Garcia stopped him and heavy longshot Julio Diaz came close to upsetting the home fighter in Sheffield last time out. Trainer Virgil Hunter, due to 13 months of inactivity, has had more time to tighten up Khan’s defenses, and Saturday should be a real acid test when the pair match wits against the under rated Collazo.
Ironically, Khan meets the seasoned New Yorker on the undercard of Mayweather versus Marcos Maidana, but despite the fact that the super skilled Khan gets a chance to paint on the pound for pound star’s canvas, he is ignoring any and all prompts to talk about him.
RingTV.com caught up with Amir Khan to discuss his welterweight debut and more.
RingTV: You were married last year. How has that changed your approach to life and the sport you love?
Amir Khan: It’s just made me more determined and keener to do well in my career. I have a family to support now and that gives me extra motivation to sacrifice and do well for them. I’m more focused than ever and on May 3rd people will see the benefits of all the hard work we’ve been doing behind the scenes.
RTV: You’ve had a very chaotic 12 months as a professional. What have you learned and what would you change if anything?
AK: I’ve learned how to deal with disappointments and move on. Of course 2013 wasn’t the best year for me, but I firmly believe that could be a blessing in disguise. The career setbacks and fights falling through have allowed me to work on things in the gym. I would like to have been more active, but you don’t always get what you want. Now, it’s about coming back stronger and harder.
RTV: Tell me about Luis Collazo. What are your opinions of him as a fighter and what are his strengths?
AK: Collazo is a very good fighter who is coming to win on May 3, so I know he can’t be overlooked. He’s tricky and awkward because of his southpaw style, and very determined. With someone like that you know you’re going to be in for a tough challenge, but it’s a fight that I’m really looking forward to.
RTV: What did you make of Collazo’s second-round knockout win over Victor Ortiz?
AK: I was impressed because I don’t think many experts tipped Collazo to win in that fashion. That’s what I’m saying about his determination. He showed that he would not be beat that night and took it to Victor Ortiz, who is a very good fighter. It was an impressive performance, so I know that this is going to be a great matchup.
RTV: Collazo is a southpaw and you’re first lefty assignment since Zab Judah, whom you excelled against. What is it in particular about your game which matches up well against the southpaw style?
AK: I can box and use my speed against southpaws, which makes it easier when fighting them. They have the ability to make you look bad, but I think I have the tools to deal with that. I know when to, and when not to, attack which puts me in a good position when facing a left hander. It’s about out punching them and using angles. I have good footwork, which is also an advantage, and most of all it’s about being clever in and negating what they bring to the table.
RTV: Is there pressure to not only win against Collazo, but win in style, given that the prize could be Floyd Mayweather?
AK: I always want to win in style and this fight is no different. I won’t be thinking ahead or overlooking Collazo. He’s a fighter that has my respect, so all my focus is on beating him on May 3 and establishing myself at welterweight, against one of the top guys in the division.
RTV: With both of you on the same card, do you firmly believe that Mayweather is next, should you both emerge victorious?
AK: Like I say, I refuse to overlook Collazo. In the past I’ve gone into fights thinking about what’s next but the truth is, in boxing, you should never look past your immediate opponent. If I do get past Collazo then we’ll take it from there and sit down with my team. But for now, it’s all about Collazo and May 3.
RTV: How do you see Mayweather vs. Maidana unfolding?
AK: I think Mayweather will outbox him over 12 rounds. Maidana has a puncher’s chance but I think Floyd will be too slick for him and pick him off.
RTV: On the same card Broner makes his debut at 140 pounds, against your old foe Carlos Molina. Is the drop in weight a sign of Broner acknowledging that he’s not a welterweight after all?
AK: It could be or it might just be a case of him wanting to test the waters at junior welterweight, after his fight with Maidana. That was a really tough fight, so Broner is probably slowing things down and giving his body the chance to grow naturally into the welterweight division.
RTV: What is your prediction for the Collazo fight?
AK: All I know is that I’m going out there to win and do it in style. I don’t know if it will be via stoppage or points, but my aim is to get the victory and look good doing it.
Mayweather vs. Maidana – The Moment will be screened live on Showtime PPV this Saturday night from 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT. Visit http://www.sho.com/sho/sports/pay-per-view to order.
British fans can also see this event live on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD & Virgin 546) from midnight. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing