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Steve Wellings finds the WBA boss wary of an upset

STRONG: And McCloskey loves a tear up

AMIR KHAN believes that the rough-and-tumble 12 rounds he shared with Marcos


Maidana in his last bout have improved him as a fighter, while silencing the doubters who still question his punch resistance.


“The Maidana fight did me the world of good and confidence is high, coming back to fight at home will boost me,” claimed Khan, who scoffed at suggestions that victory over the Argentine may have taken something out of him.


“Maidana was strong and I proved my chin and proved I could fight under pressure. The fight was big for me, it was hyped up as a 50-50 battle. It made me a better fighter, it was a war and I suppose you don’t need too many of those; I said that I want to walk out of this sport the same way as I walked in. I’ve learned a lot and feel a more mature fighter since my last fight. This next one, against McCloskey, will be as tough as Maidana. Paul’s strong and he loves a tear-up so we’ll be ready for him.”


As usual Khan received a warm welcome in Belfast as he joined various members of both fighters’ promotional and management teams to help build up the April 16 pay-per-view attraction. The 24-year-old has not fought in England for 14 months and is looking forward to impressing his home crowd. However, with tickets selling fast in Ireland, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn believes that the challenger could have the bigger crowd support come fight night.


“The Irish public are true boxing fans and huge into the sport,” agreed Khan. “Irish fighters are strong and come forward but Paul’s also slick and skilful and will make me think a bit more.


“I’ll do what Freddie [Roach] tells me, he’s watching the videos and knows everything we need to do. We’re going to be working on Freddie’s gameplan and I fought differently in the [Paulie] Malignaggi and Maidana fights. Paul is by far a better fighter than Junior Witter or Lamont Peterson. I want to fight the best fighters and at this stage of my career I think Paul is the best opponent out there. I want to unify the division but I’m not looking too far past April 16.”


Khan paid homage to McCloskey’s slick southpaw moves and lateral movement, but believes he will be able to call upon a unique sparring partner for extra help.


“Freddie says I’ll be doing a bit of sparring with Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “Manny’s the best southpaw on the planet and in the Wild Card Gym there are so many young, up-and-coming fighters walking in all the time, plus plenty of world champions too so it should be easy getting good southpaw sparring.


“All the odds are on me to win the fight but this is a tough opponent. We’re going to do our homework and meet up with Freddie Roach for training in LA, then off to the Philippines for a training camp with Pacquiao. I always train like a challenger, knowing that someone wants to take my title.”


Much has been made of the recent split between Khan and expert strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. The title-holder does not see an issue however and is even talking of a possible showdown with a pound-for-pound giant in the future.


“Freddie’s got another strength and conditioner in and he always told Alex what to do anyway, so he was the brains behind all that and advises the conditioner on what’s what. Roach thinks that the new conditioner is very good.


“Floyd Mayweather is also a possible fight for the future. It’s 12 months or so away though because I’m still learning, fighting different styles and gaining my confidence. One day I want to fight for that pound-for-pound title and be experienced when I do that.”


Focused, articulate and ready for an intense training camp with one of the great modern-day boxers. All of which makes Amir Khan a frightful proposition for any challenger – even a supremely confident one like Paul McCloskey.


“I’ve tasted defeat before and I don’t want to taste it again,” Khan firmly stated.”I’ve got to be smart, stick to my instructions and then it will be a good fight. The underdog could cause an upset, but not on this occasion because I’ll be totally focused.”



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