By Joe Delaney, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN plans to prove that he is the undisputed No.1 light-welterweight in the world this weekend.
Despite holding the WBC title, Danny Garcia was seen by some as a second-class replacement when he got the call to face Khan after his rematch with Lamont Peterson was scrapped following the American’s failed drugs test.
Yet the decision of the WBA on Wednesday to restore Khan as their champion – and the announcement that tomorrow’s fight in Las Vegas will also be for The Ring magazine belt – gave the bout huge added credibility.
With the IBF title effectively frozen while they delay action over Peterson and the WBO title vacant after Timothy Bradley moved up a division to beat Manny Pacquiao, Khan and Garcia will be fighting for every available belt in the division.
“I’m cleaning up the division. Things happen for a reason,” said Khan.
“If the Peterson fight had gone ahead, I’d have been fighting for my old titles.
“This time I’ve got my old title back and I’m fighting for the WBC title, which I’ve always wanted to do.
“All the best fighters have had WBC titles, like Floyd Mayweather, and I’ve got a chance to fight for The Ring title as well. It’s very good news.”
Khan, 25, is a huge 6-1 ON favourite but says he is determined that this will be his final fight in the division before moving up to welterweight.
This is his seventh world title fight and Khan says he has run out of decent opponents.
A move to welterweight could see him pitched in with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Pacquiao, Bradley and Devon Alexander.
“Not many fighters have done what I hope to do in this division,” he said. “The guys I’ve fought in this division have all been in the top 10.
“I’ve had a great career in this division. Hopefully I can beat Garcia and then move up.
“I’m not looking too far ahead and I cannot afford to be distracted by anything else.”
In Garcia, though, Khan faces a hungry fighter. It is also the first time that Khan has faced an opponent younger than himself in his seven-year professional career that started in a blaze of publicity after he won an Olympic silver medal aged 17.
Garcia beat a legend in Erik Morales to claim the WBC title in March but the 24-year-old was still little known.
Now he sees Khan as a stepping stone to bigger things.
“Morales was old but he had a lot of experience and could take a big punch,” said Garcia. “I hit him with big punches.
“And the question is, can Amir Khan take the punches I hit Morales with?”