Amir Khan is determined to fight on to restore his reputation after being accused of quitting in Saturday’s WBO welterweight title defeat by Terence Crawford.
The 32-year-old controversially withdrew in the sixth round at New York’s Madison Square Garden after Crawford threw a low blow, and he has since been heavily criticised by both the champion and neutral observers.
It was his trainer Virgil Hunter who took the decision for his fighter but it is also Hunter who is encouraging him to fight on. The respected figure was the first person Khan spoke to on Sunday morning and, despite being a cautious individual who required convincing before sanctioning his fight with Saul Alvarez in 2016, he is adamant Khan can respond.
Suggestions even persist that Hunter took advantage of the low blow to rescue Khan from a fight in which he was struggling and taking heavy punishment, but the former world champion told Press Association Sport: “He (Hunter) sent me a really long message. ‘I’ve been training a lot of fighters; I would be the first to say call it a day but I don’t think you should. There’s a lot left in you’.
“A trainer would be the first to say that because he’s living with you day-in, day-out. But he said ‘Look, I don’t want you to be disheartened by this; it’s not like you were fighting a dud. He’s one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound, and you were doing well against him. The shot was low, even he knows that, but when you’re fighting in someone else’s country and someone else’s promotion…’
“He sees me like a son, and treats me like a son. If he thought I should call it a day he’d say, ‘Re-think what you’re going to do’. If it was a bad performance, he’d be the first to say.”
Khan is also convinced that he was on the verge of recovering from a losing position against perhaps the world’s second finest fighter and not only that he can be optimistic of fighting again when he plans to return in September or October, but that in the right circumstances that opponent could finally be Kell Brook.
“The fight was 100 percent turning,” Khan said. “I could see (Crawford) slowing down; that fifth round was one of his worst. It’s a strategy; how can you hit somehow that low? He knows. He’s a professional fighter.
“When you’re hit with that shot you can’t think; your mind’s all over the place. Taking that low blow was a worse position to be in than being knocked down. I’m not going to say it’s a bad decision by (Virgil). He’s thinking ‘Amir will go back in there and not be fully recovered’.
“I’m lucky. I can go straight back into another big fight if I had to. If it’s a rebuilding fight it’d depend on where it was taking me.
“I just heard rumours Kell might be signing to fight out here with ESPN and is not going to be with Eddie Hearn, so that’d kill that fight. I’d fight anyone. If that fight’s there, for sure.”