By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily star
LEGENDARY trainer Freddie Roach believes that Amir Khan could be damaged goods as he bids to rescue his career.
Khan meets the unbeaten Carlos Molina in the early hours of Sunday morning as he attempts to get back among the world greats following two successive defeats.
But Roach, who Khan sacked after those career-threatening reversals, is convinced that his former pupil could be in for a psychological backlash.
Roach, who has trained 24 world champions, became the fourth trainer to be dumped by Khan, in the wake of his latest fourth-round defeat by Danny Garcia.
And he said: “You just don’t know if there is psychological damage until it’s there.
“It is like me saying Manny Pacquiao (who he trains) won’t be affected by getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last weekend.
“We don’t know that yet and, do you know what, it doesn’t normally show up in the gym.
“It only shows up in the next fight. I hope Amir is over it and I’ll be cheering for him.”
Roach guided Khan to two world titles after his shock defeat by Colombian Breidis Prescott four years ago – his only defeat until the two recent setbacks.
Now Roach has followed fellow Khan trainers Oliver Harrison, Dean Powell and Jorge Rubio through the exit door.
But he is not bitter. He said: “Sometimes trainers retire and sometimes they get fired. It comes to an end sometime. I don’t have time to be mad at anyone.
“Amir called me to say he was going in a different direction. I wished him the best of luck and it was fine.”
Roach, who is based in LA, says leopards don’t change their spots and that Khan will always have his toe-to-toe mentality when he climbs into the ring.
He failed to follow the game plan against Garcia and that cost him dearly – with a third-round knockdown before the KO in the fourth.
Roach said: “He’s always liked to get involved in a fight. Even when I watched his amateur fights, he would knock a lot of guys out. He would go forward and have success with it. But if you stay in there too long, the guy is going to throw back somewhere along the way.
“If you stay in the pocket too long, you’re likely to get hit back. Garcia is not a great fighter but he hits pretty hard.
“I thought Amir could have won that fight with the left hand. The game plan was to just use one hand and break him down. But he didn’t stick to it.”
Khan, 26, has promised that he will be a changed fighter against American Molina, 27, and claims he has learned his lesson.
But Roach still has doubts and said: “Can Amir change his mentality? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone in the world can change Amir.
“I think he’s going to be aggressive and throw combinations like he always does in this fight.
“But Amir is a good kid and I wish him all the best.
“I hope that he and Virgil Hunter have success together.”