By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN wants to be remembered as a world-class fighter rather than being the funny bloke afraid of snakes and creepy crawlies on I’m A Celebrity.
The former light-welterweight world champion also insists the days being in the news for all the wrong reasons are behind him as he aims to get back on track in the ring.
Khan, 31, confirmed yesterday he has signed a three-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport and will return to the ring on April 21 at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
It will be his first bout since his brutal knockout defeat – the fourth of his 35-fight career – by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May 2016.
In that time, Khan has undergone two operations on his right hand but also found himself at war with his wife, Faryal Makhdoom, and his own family.
There have been fallouts, threats of divorce, accusations of cheating and even claiming on social media that his wife had an affair with Anthony Joshua in a bizarre two years for the 2004 Olympic silver medallist.
But he won the nation’s hearts with his appearance on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity show and admitted it was in the jungle when he realised he has to turn his life around and get back to boxing.
“I’m glad I went in the jungle,” he said at a press conference at the Dorchester in London yesterday. “It gave me time to think.
“Before that I was all over the place. Sometimes being away from each other gives you time to think.
“Sometimes you never look at your own mistakes. I said silly things on social media, it shows you have to be very careful what you say.
“I did say stupid things but it is about learning from mistakes. I’m a 31-year-old man, I’m not a kid any more.
“It’s all about moving forward and focusing on my boxing for next couple for years.
“I don’t want to live that celebrity life. I’m not a celebrity, I’m a normal guy.
“I did the show for me, I people to see the real me, that’s going to help me with my boxing. I want to be remembered for boxing.”
Khan’s three-fight deal with Hearn has an option of a further fight while the pair have put all previous bad blood behind them after years of bad-mouthing each other in public.
Talks started before Khan went to Australia for the TV show and continued through his father, Shah, while he was away.
All parties have put claims they would never work with each other aside to make a lucrative deal.
The Bolton fighter’s contract with American advisor Al Haymon has ended but he will remain with San Francisco-based trainer Virgil Hunter and will travel to California later this month to start getting into shape.
Khan’s April foe will be confirmed next week with South African Chris van Heerden among a number of fighters on a shortlist, although American star Adrien Broner has not been considered.
The Bolton-born fighter will then be in action again around August before a big fight in December, possibly against Sheffield rival Kell Brook or against one of the world welterweight champions.
Hearn, who also promotes Brook, said Khan signing with him has cleared some barriers to making the Brook fight but that it also still may never happen.
Khan added: “It’s all about now rebuilding my career and making those big fights happen again, like [WBA and WBC welterweight champion] Keith Thurman, like Brook, there are big names out there.
“If I have two-three years it is about planning it right. There is no point rushing.”