By Terence Dooley
Amir Khan closes his 2011 ledger with a WBA and IBF light-welterweight title defence against Lamont Peterson in Washington DC’s Convention Centre this Saturday night. ‘King’ Khan has made the difficult transition from UK star to US name in recent times, with his December 2010 decision win over Argentine strong man Rene Marcos Maidana the turning point for the Lancashire star.
Khan hopes to continue this fine run of form on US soil with an impressive victory over his Washington-based opponent. Peterson registered a draw and suffered a decision reverse when meeting Amir’s rivals Victor Ortiz and Tim Bradley but has not been stopped in his 31-bout career, 29-1-1 (15).
Indeed, ‘Havoc’ got up off the canvas in the third round of the Bradley fight; he was also dropped twice in the third round of his meeting with Ortiz to fight his way back into the contest. Khan, though, believes that he will be the first man to halt the 27-year-old.
“The fight is a sell out,” said Khan when speaking to Sky Sport’s Ringside show. “We’ve kept talking about it to keep it in the media. We’re ready. It is great to be here in DC for a big fight. It is a big test for me but I’ll be bringing these belts back home.
“I think it (fighting in Peterson’s city) is motivation, really, because one thing about me is that I train and work hard so knowing I’m going to his backyard makes me train even harder. I’m not going to make this fight close, it will be a convincing win for me so it won’t go his way.”
He added: “I don’t want it to go the distance. I feel fit and strong and have the speed behind me. I’m a fighter who wants to be remembered so have a lot to do. The game plan is nice and fresh in my mind. I’ll be ready for the fight on Saturday. If I get through this fight in good style there’s Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao out there. I’m going to stick to the instructions and make it as easy as possible.”
Freddie Roach has played a huge role in Khan’s resurgence. The highly respected American took control, of Amir’s training regime in the wake of the shocking single session KO loss to Breidis Prescott in 2008 and has worked wonders. Roach believes that Amir’s eagerness to impress US fight fans is one of the biggest factors in his recent success.
“It is great to be here in Washington,” enthused Roach. “It is such a famous place and good for the promotion. Amir is one of those guys who enjoys seeing new things and taking in the history of America.”
Many expect this to be the 25-year-old’s final fight at 140lbs, particularly as a unification fight with Tim Bradley looks increasingly unlikely, with both sides blaming the other for the impasse. An impressive win on Saturday night could see Amir leave the light-welterweights behind in search of massive fights at 147lbs. Alex Ariza, Khan’s conditioning coach, has already started to turn the 26-1 (18) boxer into a welterweight.
“For the last couple of fights I’ve been adjusting his body pound by pound in case they do make that jump to 147,” confirmed Ariza. “This is the best, the strongest I’ve seen him and the weight has complimented him.”
Peterson’s pre-fight mantra has been ‘accuracy, accuracy, accuracy’; the former WBO interim titlist feels that pinpoint punching is the key to ripping away the belts. Lamont has quietly but boldly stated his case throughout the build up.
“No pressure, I’ve been doing this for years so it is no different,” stated the challenger. “I know I can out-box him and hurt him so we’ll see what happens when we get in there.”
Peterson’s long armed punching, stiff, potentially speed breaking, jab and solid right hand could prove to be Khan’s downfall if the visitor is not in the form of his life. Amir, however, knows all about the sour taste of defeat and is unlikely to slip up.
Sky Sports 1 and HD1 televise from 11pm tomorrow night.
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