By Jake Donovan
This Saturday promises to unveil a complete makeover in the career of Amir Khan, if the fighter’s word is to be taken at face value. The former 140 lb. champ enters this weekend’s showdown against Carlos Molina on the heels of back-to-back losses, including a brutal 4th round knockout defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia this past July.
Khan (26-3, 18KO) has spent the past several months absorbing knowledge from newly hired trainer Virgin Hunter, whom he hired shortly after breaking away from Hall-of-Fame cornerman Freddie Roach. Several changes have been made in the Brit’s career, but one constant remains – his years-long tradition of fighting in his birth month.
“December is always a nice time to have a fight,” says Khan, having celebrated his 26th birthday last Saturday. The occasion was spent putting the finishing touches on preparation for his Showtime-televised headliner with Molina, which airs live from the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. “It’s coming towards the end of the year and nice to finish the year off strong. I’ve had a nice break coming into this December fight.”
Khan has fought in December in every year of his career since turning pro in 2005. The Brit is 6-1 overall in that run, with the lone loss coming last year when he dropped a controversial split decision to Lamont Peterson in his opponent’s hometown of Washington D.C.
The month has provided several big moments for Khan, including his Dec. ’10 war with Marcos Maidana, which was universally recognized as high among the year’s best fights. A pivotal fight in his career came in Dec. ’08, knocking out Oisin Fagan in two rounds to bounce back from his 1st round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott, the first defeat of his career.
Other notable wins in December include 1st round knockouts over Dmitry Salita (2009) and Graham Earl (2007). The latter of the two came on Khan’s 21st birthday and also served as his breakout performance, given Earl’s strong showing in a Fight of the Year contender against then-unbeaten Michael Katsidis earlier in the year.
Those days seem so long ago for the still-promising star, who promises a fresh start on Saturday night to put behind him an otherwise disastrous year.
“Training camp has gone great. I feel like I’m in great condition. I know the mistakes I’ve made in previous fights and we’re not going to make them again,” Khan insists. “I’m excited to show you what the new Amir Khan is going to be like.
“I’ve kept things quiet and just want to show you what we’ve been working on, training in San Francisco in the Bay Area, alongside such great fighters like Andre Ward. Even though I’ve trained hard for previous fights, I know this fight is make-or-break for me. Connection-wise, everything is going to come together for me in this fight.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox