By Chris Robinson
On Saturday, WBA super lightweight champion Amir Khan announced to his 181,000 Twitter followers that he has been working with his previous strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, whom he had a slight falling out with after his December victory over Marcos Maidana at the Mandalay Bay. Khan noted that he and the Colombian will commence working this Monday at 6 in the morning in preparation for his upcoming fight in July against an yet-to-be-determined foe.
In April Khan pulled out a six-round technical nod over Ireland's Paul McCloskey in his native England, a fight in which he looked far from stellar, and many of his supporters had been hoping for a reunion with Ariza. The two seemed to work well with one another but they parted ways shortly after the Maidana fight, with Ariza claiming he hadn't gotten paid for his services and even accusing members of the Bolton fighter's camp of breaking into his hotel room in order to steal his contract.
A few weeks ago, the two sides met to begin discussions about possibly repairing their working relationship. During an interview with BoxingScene.com, Khan was very clear that he was interested in a positive solution to have Ariza return to the corner.
While Ariza didn't want to open up too much about another working relationship with Khan due to legal purposes, he couldn't hide his excitement towards the proposition.
"I like his intensity," Ariza told me when asked for his favorite traits of Khan. "His openness, his willingness to try new things. Everybody is now doing things a little bit differently. The things you do sometimes can be very taxing and a lot of the guys just don't make it. But he was one of the guys who was up every day and I could tell that some of the days he just wasn't digging it, he was still doing it and putting 100% into it."
In the Maidana fight Khan started fast by scoring a first round knockdown off of a body shot yet had to hold of the surging Argentinean down the stretch of the fight. In the tenth round Khan could be seen absorbing some unearthly power shots from Maidana, yet he found a way to weather the storm and hold on for a tight unanimous decision verdict.
I asked Ariza whether all of the hard work they had put in together was a reason that Khan survived that night and he seemed to believe so.
"Yeah, when you train hard you are able to overcome and get over adversities like that sometimes," Ariza continued. "But he was in the best shape I think I have ever got him and I always say that I thought we were 60% finished with everything that I wanted to do with him and I look forward to getting back to work."
Khan has great range at at 5'10" tall it is only natural to envision him one day moving to the welterweight ranks. He has great potential about him but Ariza wants to take things one day at a time before anything else.
"He's a big 140-pounder, he's tall, and it's just one of those things. He's still a young man. When the body starts to grow into itself, you get past that point, it's up to Freddie [Roach] to decide when to build him up to the welterweight division. At that time we will make the adjustments and start building the body for that kind of division."
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