By Barry Cooper, courtesy of The Daily Star
FORMER two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton has warned Amir Khan not to get involved a bloody war with Luis Collazo this Saturday.
Hatton has advised Khan to use his slick skills and keep Collazo at a distance as the American has real knock-out power in his gloves.
The Hitman beat Collazo on a wafer-thin points decision eight years ago in his first fight in the welterweight division, but was very nearly stopped in the final round of a thrilling tussle.
Khan makes his debut at the 147lbs limit against Collazo, who in his last fight in January underlined his power by sparking out Victor Ortiz.
Hatton, who will be in Las Vegas at ringside to cheer on Khan, said: "This is an extremely dangerous fight for Amir and he could have taken something easier for his first fight up at welterweight.
"Collazo is very strong, a bit flat-footed, but powerful. Because he's flat-footed I had no trouble punching him so if Amir uses his skills and his speed to box him and move in and out, he should beat him quite comfortably.
"But knowing Amir he may not be able to resist getting into a war with Collazo and if he does that the fight could be over before he knows it."
Hatton said the switch up to the welterweight division after winning his first world title as a light-welterweight against Kostya Tszyu in 2005 came as a nasty surprise.
He said: "My game was power, but when I stepped up from 140lbs to 147lbs to fight Collazo it was a shock to the system. I had him down early, but after that when I hit him he just came back at me.
"And when he hit me he wobbled me two or three times. At 10st I could shove people around to set myself up, but at 147lbs Collazo was too strong for any of that.
"With Kostya Tszyu, who was tough as they come, I had taken every big shot he could throw and came through it to win. I thought I could take anything. I was strong, but not that strong.
"There's a big difference when you go up a weight and Amir is in for a surprise. The punches are heavier. There's an extra seven pounds behind them and you can't get away with the bullying approach."
Hatton has tipped Khan to overcome Collazo, but admits he has his reservations about a fight which could go horribly wrong as the former Olympic medallist has been flattened in the past by the likes of Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia and was even dropped in his last fight by Julio Diaz, a boxer with no reputation for concussive punching.
"It depends which Amir turns up," said Hatton. "He says he has learned a lot from his setbacks and won't be lunging and rushing in, but he's an instinctive fighter and he likes to trade punches. He likes to take his man on.
"I'm going to take Amir to win on points, but only if he boxes clever. It's the not knowing which makes boxing exciting and in this case not knowing how Amir will fight is the attraction.
"When he boxes he can beat anyone. He was slicing up Garcia and was about to take him out until he stayed too long in the pocket and got caught by a big shot.
"I'm going over to support him and I'll be on my feet from the first bell, but I'll be nervous for him. We'll know pretty quickly the kind of fight it's going to be and I'm tipping him because the fear factor will make sure he fights a smart fight."