By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
VIRGIL HUNTER has backed Amir Khan to come back better than ever after a year out of the ring.
The 27-year-old has not fought since scraping past veteran Julio Diaz last April as he prepares to take on big-hitting southpaw Luis Collazo on May 3 in Las Vegas.
The Bolton-born fighter gave up a chance to face the then IBF champ Devon Alexander in December as he chased a fight with Floyd Mayweather that eventually fell through.
Many expect the former light-welterweight world champion Khan to be rusty in what will be his welterweight debut.
But his American coach Hunter dismissed those fears as he insisted Khan needed some time out after starting boxing at just nine.
Hunter said: "If you can fight, you can fight. That's just the way it is.
"I believe in today's age, if you started fighting in eight or nine years old, at some point you need to take a year off.
"Mayweather has proven you can do that against all odds. He says 'I'll fight once a year, once in two years' and he has not lost a step.
"That really is a myth that you get rusty. Some fighters get rusty because they have other habits.
"If you see a fighter come back rusty I can guarantee that when he took that year off he got fat and lazy, he was partying and drinking, he was with women so he done damage to his body.
"But if he took a year off and didn't have those habits, he has really rested himself. He has been fighting since he was nine years old.
"He has rejuvenated his body. If we can get the best Amir Khan in the ring then everyone will be astounded at what he can do."
When Khan worked under former trainer Freddie Roach, he returned to England after fights and piled on weight as he rested up.
Although he never reached the levels fellow Brit Ricky Hatton was famous for, it was holding back his development as a fighter after losing his world title to Danny Garcia in 2012.
Hunter laid it on the line when he started working with him last year - warning him he must spend more time in California at his gym.
And it has finally got through to Khan who has spent three six-week periods in the US in the last 12 months and returned this week to step up preparations for Collazo.
Hunter added: "My reputation is on the line also. I will take hits too if it is not right.
"If I'm going to take hits, at least I need to know that deep down I did my best and I can accept that."Tags: Luis Collazo , Abraham vs Piotr Wilczewski , Khan-Collazo , Khan vs. Collazo