By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN claims he is “100 percent” on course to become a world champion once again by the end of this year.
The Bolton bruiser is confident of muscling his way back into the world title picture despite an unconvincing points win over Julio Diaz in Sheffield on Saturday.
The former two-time world light-welterweight champion hardly turned in the kind of devastating show needed to convince those who doubt his ability to get back to the top.
But Khan was bullish after his hard-earned victory and said: “Yes, I am 100 percent certain that I can become a world champion again by December.”
His view was echoed by Richard Schaeffer, the head of Khan’s Golden Boy promoters, who said: “We are looking at December for a world title clash.”
Their optimism is admirable, but the truth is that Khan struggled against the Mexican.
He had to clamber up off the canvas to keep his dreams alive as what appeared to be a routine assignment suddenly turned into something of a desperate struggle.
He was dumped on his backside by a big left hook in the fourth round and teetered on the brink of further knockdowns as Diaz forced a spectacular finish.
Thankfully, Khan had done enough in the early rounds to deserve his unanimous 115-113, 115- 112, 114-113 points win.
But it was a far-from-convincing show as he looks to set up lucrative showdowns back in the big time.
Khan was trying to get back into the title picture after career-threatening defeats by Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia.
He entered the ring on the back of a win over Carlos Molina but never really stamped his authority on 33-year-old former lightweight world champion Diaz.
After being dumped in the fourth for a count of eight, Khan was hurt in the eighth and was almost decked in the 10th and 11th rounds.
Khan admitted: “It was a tough fight. He caught me with a shot but I was off balance. I remember everything in that round when I went down.
“I was down but I recovered and ran until I cleared my head.
“I just had to listen to my trainer Virgil Hunter and get back to my boxing I came through it all and won and now I feel I am bang on course for a world title shot before this year is out.”