By Chris Robinson
It’s been almost three months since Danny Garcia’s thrilling upset over Amir Khan. Inside of the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Garcia overcome a slow start by dropping Khan with a wicked left hook in the third round while finishing off one frame and two knockdowns later.
For Garcia, the tough Philadelphian claimed the WBA junior welterweight title to go along with the WBC bauble he already held and he is presently eyeing a rematch with Erik Morales later this month at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Khan’s momentum has come to a lull, however, as the Garcia setback came on the heels of his controversial split-decision loss to Lamont Peterson this past December. Sensing that a change in his team was in order, the 25-year old British star parted ways with renowned trainer Freddie Roach in mid-September and would later announce that Oakland’s Virgil Hunter will be serving as his new coach.
Hunter is well-respected, largely due to his role in guiding super middleweight champion Andre Ward towards prominence, and his pairing with Khan has created some definite chatter. It was also recently announced that Khan’s ring return will take place on December 15th, as he will meet up with unbeaten lightweight hopeful Carlos Molina inside of the LA Sports Arena.
Swinging by the Mayweather Boxing Club over the weekend, I gathered the opinions of some insiders to see what they thought of Khan’s union with Hunter.
Trainer Rodney Crisler spent years working with heavyweight contender Samuel Peter while also being involved in light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson’s camp prior to his loss to Ward and he points out that Khan’s willingness to face all comers will again serve him well.
“We have a lot of guys in this game; there’s a lot of people he can fight,” Crisler stated. “There’s a lot of people he beat. I think in two, three fights, he’ll be right back in there.”
Welterweight prospect Joseph Elegele (13-1, 10 KO’s) feels that Khan and Hunter could certainly mesh, but only after a certain period of time.
“I know Virgil’s a good trainer,” stated Elegele, who originally hails from Melbourne, Florida. “He knows a lot of key things; defense, offense, and how to work both of them together. It takes time to adapt to another trainer, but given time and hard work, in another year I could see improvement.”
Now calling Las Vegas home after honing his skills in Detroit early in his career, undefeated middleweight prospect J’Leon Love (13-0, 7 KO’s) has become a staple inside of the Mayweather Boxing Club after serving as a chief sparring partner for Floyd Mayweather prior to his victory over Miguel Cotto on May 5th.
Love points out that Khan’s mental fortitude will play a huge role in making another championship run.
“It aint the end of the road for Amir Khan,” said Love. “Virgil Hunter is one of the top trainers in the game. Dude is a scientist in this game. It’s all up to Amir Khan, how he is feeling mentally. It’s all about him and how much heart and strength that he has and [his] will to come back.”
If there one was one person inside of the gym who seemed pessimistic about Khan’s return, it was trainer Jeff Mayweather. Bringing up his belief that Khan has a fragile chin, as Amir also has a first round knock loss to Breidis Prescott on his ledger from over four years ago, Mayweather seems unsure of much success we can expect from him.
“I think he can come back but you can’t create a chin and he doesn’t take a good punch,” Mayweather stated. “Once somebody gets in there and they’re a good punch and they catch him on the chin, more than likely you’re going to get the same results.”