Khan relishing rise to welterweight

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 27 2014 08:53 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2014 04:53 PM

LOS ANGELES - England's Amir Khan has no qualms about moving up in weight to take on US southpaw Luis Collazo on May 3, saying Wednesday his switch to welterweight was overdue.

"It was never easy for me to make 140," Khan, a former light welterweight world champion said of the 140-pound (63.5 kg) light welterweight limit.

"When you cut down and kill yourself by cutting down to that 140 division, it used to make me really weak and I couldn't hold the energy," Khan said. "The power wasn't there. I used to walk into the fights feeling very weak."

Khan spoke on a conference call to promote the non-title Collazo clash, which is on the undercard of unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather's matchup with Argentina's Marcos Maidana.

Khan admitted that it was perhaps "surprising" that he's fighting on the Mayweather undercard, but refused to be drawn into further criticizing the American -- who dangled a possible fight in front of Khan before opting for Maidana.

"That was a disappointment, but, like I said, it was a mental thing and I got over it," said Khan, who had blasted Mayweather on social media immediately after Mayweather announced his decision in February.

"Luis Collazo is going to give 100 percent in there, so all of my focus is on that fight now," Khan said.

Khan, 28-3 with 19 knockouts, has not fought since last April 27 and skipped a planned December bout with US southpaw Devon Alexander for the International Boxing Federation title in anticipation of a big-money showdown with Mayweather.

Instead, it will be the longest layoff of his career, just over a year, before he climbs into the ring with Collazo, who is 35-5 with 18 knockouts -- including a second-round knockout of Victor Ortiz in January.

Khan said he doesn't expect any ring rust, since he used much of his time off to train. He said that under the guidance of trainer Virgil Hunter he had improved some of his fundamentals.

"I'm learning a lot about being patient and about picking the right shots at the right time," he said. "I've always been an exciting fighter, and I think that's always going to be there. But we're working on new things, like making sure that my hands are in the right position."

And, Khan said, the extra training time has given him a chance to adapt to life in the 147-pound welterweight ranks, a move he had contemplated as far back as 2011, in the wake of his victory over Zab Judah for the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association light welterweight belts.

"I really believe that I will be a better fighter at 147," he said. "I'll keep all of my energy and have more power in my shots.

"When we spar, I feel so much stronger. I'm basically at my natural weight. I think this weight is going to be perfect for me."


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