Amir Khan hungry for emphatic Vegas victory

Amir Khan has a chance to finally secure a megafight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

All that stands in his way is former welterweight champion Devon Alexander – who also has his eyes on the Mayweather prize.

Khan (29-3, 19 KOs) and Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs) square off this Saturday night in a 12-round welterweight showdown from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. SFBay will bring you complete fight week coverage, including ringside analysis for the fight.

The winner will likely establish himself as a surefire candidate to challenge pound-for-pound kingpin Mayweather sometime next year.

Khan – the former unified WBA and IBF 140 lb. world champion – is hungry to land that big money fight, and he remains focused on emphatically defeating the dangerous counterpuncher Alexander.

Khan, who celebrated his 28th birthday Monday, told SFBay he worked hard on improving his boxing craft throughout his recent training camp:

“I’ve still got a lot of room for improvement, but I’m slowly learning and improving – that’s the main thing. You can compare the Amir Khan 12 months ago to the Amir Khan now. I’m much better and much smarter. Hopefully on Saturday, you’ll see much of a difference.”

Khan has trained under renowned Bay Area trainer Virgil Hunter for the past two years. They are 3-0 since joining forces following Khan’s devastating fourth-round technical knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July 2012.

Hunter acknowledged Khan’s improvements and believes continuity has been key to their recent success:

“There are also adjustments that you have to make in your style and transitions and recreations as you get a little older. You have to prepare for 30 when you’re 28. It’s just something that we have committed to. We just take it one fight at a time. We have a goal of being better in each fight and that’s how we’ve gone about it. So far, it’s worked for us.”

Before aligning himself with Hunter, Khan trained under six-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for almost four years, including for the Garcia fight.

But Khan prefers training at Hunter’s isolated Oakland gym since he doesn’t have to worry about distractions from other fighters or casual gym patrons:

“We’re going to a gym that’s very isolated and very quiet, and that is good because you can focus on what you need to do. The only people you have in the gym are you and your gym mates. The gym might only have five or six people and that’s the most. I think that’s what a fighter needs really is to focus. You don’t need a big gym full of people because sometimes that can distract you.”

Khan and Alexander were originally supposed to fight for Alexander’s IBF welterweight championship last December. Khan withdrew from the bout, however, because he believed he was next in line for a shot at Mayweather – but Mayweather ultimately opted to fight Marcos Maidana.

The additional months of training Khan got in by withdrawing ultimately benefited him when he impressively dominated Luis Collazo on the Mayweather-Maidana undercard this past May.

Alexander, meanwhile, lost his IBF world title to Shawn Porter in December, but recently rebounded with a strong win against Mexican veteran Jesus Soto Karass this past June.

Alexander’s only other professional loss was served up by Timothy Bradley via 10th-round technical decision almost four years ago.

Though he was manhandled in both losses, Alexander – a former unified 140-lb. title holder himself – has yet to be clearly outboxed.

But Khan, who is recognized for his fine technical boxing craft, doesn’t feel the pressure to outbox Alexander because he can fight in a variety of styles – all whilst applying the intelligence and experience Hunter has instilled in him these past two years:

“What Virgil has brought to the table has made me a better fighter. He’s made me an understanding fighter to understand what boxing is all about and not make mistakes. You know, I’m not going back to my old self again … I can come forward and fight you, I can box you. I have all the abilities, but there’s times and places for those.”