Conference Call Transcripts - Amir Khan
MI: Mick, coordinator
RM: Richard Maynard
KD: Katie Drew
AK: Amir Khan
AH: Alan Hubbard
NP: Nick Parkinson
BD: Brian Doogan
PH: Peter Higgs
TH: Tom Hopkinson
PF: Paul Forsyth
SF: Scott Fife
MI: Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Sports Network conference call with Amir Khan, hosted by Richard Maynard. My name is Mick and I will be your coordinator for today's conference. For the duration of the call you will be on listen only, however, at the end of the call, you will have the opportunity to ask questions. If, at any time, you need assistance, please press star zero on your telephone keypad and you will be connected to an operator. I am now handing you over to Richard for today's conference.
RM: Great, thank you, Mick. Good morning everyone. Thank you very much for joining the call this morning. Sorry for the delay in getting on the call this morning, there were a few technical problems getting Amir in, but he's on the line now and he's okay. And also [unclear] Frank Warren, he's been pulled away at the last minute, so if anyone needs to speak to Frank regarding Amir Khan, I'll tell him[inaudible]…please give him a call afterwards or give me a call and [inaudible]. But, as I say, we've got Amir Khan on the line before his massive fight next week at the MEN Arena. Amir will be defending his WBA International Lightweight title and challenging for the vacant [?] WBO Intercontinental titles, both will be on the line. You don't really need to say anything to hype this fight up. It's an absolutely huge fight, the biggest fight of Amir Khan's career. And he's fighting the Mexican legend, Marco Antonio Barrera, five times free weight world champion and involved in the biggest fights in the last few years [unclear] contest. So we're expecting a great fight next Saturday night at the MEN Arena. Tickets have nearly sold out. We've got a few thousand left, but they're going to fly out this week when Barrera arrives in the country, he comes in on Sunday. And we've got a full week's activity with Marco Antonio Barrera to pump the fight [?] out. Also on the line we've Katie Drew from Sky who will give you some details about the Pay per View, so if you include any details regarding Sky in the article, that would give us a great help. Katie, do you want to say a few words?
KD: Yeah, thank you, Richard. Hello, my name's Katie, as Richard just said, from Sky. Welcome to the conference call today, thank you for joining us. Just very quickly, if you could credit any quotes from the conference call today to Sky Box Office, as coming of age, the night of live boxing is next Saturday and it's live on Sky Box Office and it's also on HD on Sky Box Office, HD. So if you could mention that within a copy of this piece, that would be much appreciated. Thanks very much. Cheers, Rich.
RM: Thanks, Katie. Also on the line we have Amir's co-trainers, Alex Aruso [?] and Jesse Alvaro, they'll be on the call with Amir, as I say, and, I believe, Freddie Roach is arriving into the country on Monday and he'll be available next week for any interviews. So with that, I'll ask Amir to say a few opening words and then we'll hand over to the press to ask questions. So, Amir.
AK: Yeah, you know, it's been a tough few weeks. The biggest fight of my career at the moment. I've taken it with both hands, I've not given up. Still working hard, watching videos and preparing for the fight, staying focused. And I can't wait for Saturday, it's going to shut a lot of people up, it's going to shut all the critics up and it's going to bring out the best of Amir Khan.
RM: Great, thank you, Amir. Right, Mick. So we've got quite a lot of Sunday papers I'm afraid, so if we could start the call please.
MI: Certainly. If you do wish to ask a question, gentlemen, please press seven on your telephone keypad now. The first question comes from the line of Alan Hubbard, go ahead please, Alan.
AH: Morning, Amir. Alan Hubbard from [unclear]. How are you?
AK: I'm good.
AH: Good. Amir, this is the second time really you've fought a legend. Do you have in your own mind echoes of the Kindelan fight? Is it mentally the same sort of situation for you?
AK: Mentally it is because you know you're going into a big fight and you have to prove a lot of people wrong and be 100% focused. You know when you go in the ring with fighters that you know you could go in there and beat easily, then you're not going to be focused or you're not going to put 110% in. But when you know you're fighting someone like Marco Antonio Barrera who's going to come in there to beat you, who's a massive name, you're going to put everything into it. And that's what we've been doing, we've been training hard and running every morning, swimming. We've been sparring, I must have done about 90 to 100 rounds of sparring in LA. And the training comes down [?] really well, it must be the hardest I've trained for a fight. And I'm just happy with everything. The weight's come down, I'm a few pounds away from the weight now, taking everything easy. And I've never trained so hard, I feel so fit and strong, I just can't wait to get in there.
AH: You said this was a fight really to shut the critics up. How bad was the reaction, did you find, after the Prescott defeat? I think you said there was a lot of animosity out there, were you surprised at that?
AK: Well, yeah. I knew it was going to happen one day. But the criticism is always going to be there, no matter what. So this is a fight if I need to, you know, stop that criticism and shut a lot of people up, so that's what I'm going to do.
AH: Thanks, Amir.
Mi: The next question comes from the line of Nick Parkinson of the Daily Star on Sunday. Go ahead please, Nick.
NP: Morning, Amir. How are you?
AK: I'm good.
NP: Good stuff. Well, I just wondered if you'll be targeting the area where Marco was cut in his last fight.
AK: Well, you know, we've got a game plan for the fight, and the cut isn't really in the game plan that we've got. We're just going to go with the flow. I think the cut must have healed now. A lot of people say it was hardly a cut really, it was so small. But we've got the game plan and we're just going to get into that game plan and sort Barrera out with that. We're going to be focused and strong and pray they come into the country on Sunday and we're just going to go through things and watching videos and other things, keeping everything fresh in my mind.
NP: So you don't think that's an advantage, the fact that he got cut?
AK: Well, it might be on his mind that he got cut, but I've not really looked at that and I know I can beat him without focusing on that cut. I've got the skills to beat him in other ways.
NP: Okay, thanks a lot.
MI: The next question comes from the line of Brian Doogan of the Sunday Times. Go ahead please, Brian.
BD: Hello Amir, how are you doing?
AK: Hi, you're all right.
BD: Good man. What have you been doing since coming back from LA with the trainers that you have there now?
AK: We've just been getting used to the time. Getting up in the morning and training in the morning and sometimes training in the evening, close to the fight time. And it's been good. It took a few days to get used to the time difference and everything, but it's getting back to normal again. I've got sparring tonight, I've got sparring on Saturday as well. So everything's going really well. Are you still there?
AK: What's that noise?
BD: I don't know what it is.
KD: Hello, Rich. Are you still there?
MI: If you just bear with me. Is everybody okay?
KD: Richard, are you there?
MI: If you would carry on speaking and I'll get him back into the call.
KD: Thank you, Mick.
BD: Okay. So when did you get back into the country, Amir?
AK: I got back in the country on Sunday and it's probably just today I'm getting back into the time difference and everything else. But Barrera's going to come and try to beat me, he's going to try to beat me and try pushing me around in that ring, he's got experience. But we've done all the hard work in the gym and I know everything he's going to do, every move he's going to make and we just have to avoid not being focused. We have to stay focused for the full 12 rounds.
BD: Yes. And just talking a little bit about all the work that you've done with Freddie in this training camp. Because you've really looked at him very closely in terms of tapes and everything and, of course, Freddie knows him very well because of his fights with Manny Pacquiaio. So just talk a little bit about what you've done there.
AK: I spoke to Freddie about it first and I spoke to Manny about the fight and they're very confident about me taking this fight and beating Barrera. You know, Barrera's one of those fighters who comes to win every fight, he's one of them. He's got the experience behind him and he's a warrior. But with this fight, we've got the speed, we've got the power and the height advantage, which is what we're going to be using. The training I've been doing is getting up in the morning and running, swimming, doing circuit training, doing the steps, doing the mountain running, sprints, all different things. And in the afternoon, we used to do boxing training, pad work, bag work, the speed ball, sparring. So, you know, I used to do about 15 rounds of hitting the mitts and the bags and everything. So I've got the fitness to do the full 12 rounds at a high work rate with a high pace, you know, that Barrera can't handle. Other than that, working on different experienced sparring partners who have been there for a long time, who have been in with great fighters, so I've been sparring with them. They've been pushing me, they've been coming in fresh. I've been sparring with guys, three rounds in, three round out and I've been in there all the time. Training's going really well, I've never trained so hard for a fight.
BD: Okay, thanks, Amir.
MI: Just to advise, Richard Maynard is back in the call. The next question comes from the line of Peter Higgs from the Mail on Sunday. Go ahead, Peter.
PH: Hi Amir, how are you doing?
AK: Hi, you okay?
PH: Good man. I just want to ask, in view of the fact this fight is so important, will you perhaps be a little bit more cautious in this fight, maybe not open up as much as you've done in the past when you have, perhaps, made yourself a little bit more vulnerable?
AK: That's right. This fight's going to be more about patience and it's going to be more technical. The hands are going to be up, I'm going to be more focussed. And it's going to be a clinical fight, instead of me rushing in with my hands down, chin up, it's going to be the total opposite. You're going to see a new Amir Khan on this fight. We've been working on loads of different things and, like I say, I can't wait to show you guys and show myself how good I am on Saturday. I've got the confidence and I've never felt so confident for a fight.
PH: Is that going to be a little bit difficult to take that from training into the ring, I mean, the new style?
AK: No. I think it should flow well. I've done it that long in the training camp and worked with it when I was sparring and it all worked for me well, so going to the fight is just going to be a breeze, hopefully.
PH: You mentioned how Barrera is a warrior. Do you feel you've still got to prove yourself as a warrior to get into these real hard fights and prove that you can come through?
AK: I think everyone knows Amir Khan's a warrior. I've got the heart, I've got the strength, I've got the speed, I've got the power. And I'm game for a fight, every time there's a fight. I box and I can fight. But for this fight I'm going to be pacing myself, I'm going to be thinking about everything and, like I say, you're going to see a new Amir Khan. You won't see the old little mistakes I used to make, it's going to be a profession [?].
PH: Thanks a lot, Amir.
MI: The next question comes from the line of Tom Hopkinson of the People. Go ahead please, Tom.
TH: Morning Amir, morning all. Amir, it's a few years since Marco boxed Naz, but have you spoken to Naz about it or been looking at that fight?
AK: Yeah. I spoke to Naz before the trainer camp started and he's gone through them. I can go in there and beat [?] him. He told me a few things to do and not to do. So he's gone through them and he was happy for me to take the fight on.
TH: Nice for him to get a bit of revenge for him.
AK: That's it, yeah. He's a good friend of mine, Naz. He's a fighter who I've looked up to and to beat Barrera, I'm sure it will be good revenge for everyone really, for the British crowd as well.
TH: Is then any fear with you that this fight's come around quite quickly after the Prescott fight and that you might have wanted one or two more fights in between?
AK: It was up to me to take this fight on really. Frank put it towards me and I said yes. If I didn't think I was going to win the fight, I wouldn't take it on. I wouldn't want to spoil my record. But I know I can beat this guy after speaking to Manny and speaking to Freddie and the team. They've got the confidence, I've got the confidence and we know we can beat this guy. He's going to come and try, but I don't think he'll get any further. But, like I said, if I didn't think I was going to win the fight, I wouldn't have taken it on.
TH: Yeah. Well, best of luck.
MI: We have a question from the line of Paul Forsyth of Scotland on Sunday. Go ahead please, Paul.
PF: Hi Amir, how are you doing? I just wondered if, in the last few months or maybe more than that, you feel you've changed as a person as well as a fighter? Have you done a bit of growing up since the last defeat, if you like? How do you feel you've changed at all?
AK: I've changed a lot really. I've changed a lot in the camp, I've changed a lot in my life, and I've taken boxing more seriously than I've ever done before. Spending more time in training camps, going away on training camps, away from all the distractions in England. And being known everywhere you go in England, going to a place in LA where hardly anyone knows you, apart from some of the boxers. And they see you as a normal person. People like Manny Pacquiaio out training in the Wildcard [?] Gym. Who's Amir Khan compared to Manny? They don't want to know you. So that gives you the hunger back again. It makes you think about what you want to do in life and makes you want to train harder and that's what it's done to me. Living out in LA was, I think, one of the best moves I've made, especially for training camp. Like I said, get away from all the distractions and it jut helps me to focus on what I want to achieve. And also taking things more seriously, like sparring and getting good opposition in to spar with. And I think taking this fight on is just at the right time. Making that little mistake in the Prescott fight made me realise I can't be rushing in there. I've got away with it in earlier fights, but now I'm moving into world class level. You have to think, you have to be fit, you have to pace yourself and you have to think about every move you make. And I know I've got a great style and I've got good techniques and I should use them. Instead of using my heart, use my brain a bit more.
PF: Has it been difficult to rein yourself in? Was that difficult at first, given that that was your natural instinct and you've always been that, sort of, hyperactive guy? Was it hard to persuade yourself to check yourself a little bit?
AK: Yeah. It's always going to be hard, when you know you've got a high work rate and the fitness to keep punching and wearing fighters out and then knocking them out. Instead of doing that now, pacing yourself and taking the right shots and keeping the hands up. I think I'm a better boxer now than I've ever been Skill wise, fitness wise, strength wise, power wise. And I've changed a lot. Before, being dead bulky at the top, with Alex I've been working on different strength conditioning things. I can see my legs are getting bigger and stronger and my upper body is thinning down a little bit, because I was, kind of, too big. But things have gone really well. It's been the best camp I've ever had and I'm glad for that because it's the biggest fight I'm having as well. So, yeah, things are going really well.
PF: Okay, thanks.
MI: We have a question from the line of Scott Fife of the Sunday Post. Go ahead please, Scott.
SF: Thanks, mate. Morning Amir. You mentioned height advantage. Did you feel, watching Barrera on tape and with Freddie's input, that taller opponents have given Barrera problems in the past?
AK: Well, yeah, they have and I think good boxers have as well. With this guy you have to box him and be smart and I think if I just box him and do what I'm good at and not get involved in his game and his fight, then we'll be okay in that fight. He's going to try and do whatever he can to win this fight. It's a big fight for us both.
SF: He as much as you is looking to get back in the mix of things and the spotlight and justify himself, isn't he?
AK: That's right. For him, it's a big fight. He wants to be the first Mexican to win the four world titles at different weights. And for me, it's going to take me on towards winning a world title and it's a massive fight. And, like I said, with Freddie, we sat down and watched the fights and watching him fight guys who are taller than him, he does have problems. But we still have to be careful, it's one of those big fights. He's got experience. But we've got a game plan and we know exactly what we're going to be doing.
ST: I know you said you only got back on Sunday, but you probably have seen some of the reaction to James Degale's pro debut, Amir. Have you sympathy for James in how a section of the crowd kind of turned on him on Saturday?
AK: That's boxing for you. You're always going to get people who love you and who hate you. I think I've experienced that myself. So the advice I can give to James is just stay focused and don't let that get to you.
ST: Does he need to tone it down a little bit or should he ignore it and just stay the same in terms of being outspoken?
AK: I think the best way to be is just be yourself, don't let it get to him. If he starts letting it get to him it's going to affect his boxing as well as his personality. He just has to stay chilled out and just focus on your boxing more than anything.
ST: Just a final thing, Amir. Has Michael Moore had a significant role in the Los Angeles end of things with you?
AK: Yeah, Michael's brilliant. Like Freddie says, he's the third eye. Jesse's in the ring with me, and Michael, I'm watching all the mistakes I used to make before like coming up with my chin and keeping the hands low and rushing in. I've got Freddie holding the pad, I've got Jesse watching me and I've got Michael watching me. So in a way, I can't cheat. I'm going to get picked up on it and then get in trouble. So it was great to have a great team watching me and making sure everything was perfect.
ST: It sounds good. Well, all the very best, Amir. Thanks.
MI: Just a reminder, gentlemen, if you do wish to ask further questions, please press seven on your telephone keypad now. We have a question coming from the line of Peter Higgs from the Mail on Sunday. Go ahead please, Peter.
PH: It's just a quickie. How long was the training camp and how much of that time did you spend in LA?
AK: We spent six weeks in LA.
PH: And how long was the camp altogether?
AK: The camp's probably going to be about nine weeks.
MI: Another reminder; if you do wish to ask a question, please press seven on your keypad. We have a question from Brian Doogan at the Sunday Times. Go ahead please, Brian.
BD: Just a quick one, Amir. Are you aware that Barrera had a metal plate put in his head about 11 or 12 years ago? And is that a fact or a tall, I mean, are you even thinking about that? He's many, many times since, is the whole point, and nothing's ever happened, but the fact is, he did undergo this surgery.
AK: I've heard about it, but it's not going to affect the fight. It's not going to help him in the fight, and that's the main thing. Like I say, we've got a game plan, it doesn't matter if he has the metal plate or doesn't have the metal plate, there's only going to be one winner in that fight.
MI: One further reminder, if you wish to ask another question, seven on your keypad, please. There appear to be no further questions coming through, Richard. Do you wish to take the conference back? There is a question now from Paul Forsyth of Scotland on Sunday.
PF: I just wondered if, I know it wouldn't have felt like it at the time, but the Prescott defeat, if, in the long term, you might look upon that as having been a good thing or a blessing and it changed your approach?
AK: Before getting beaten and Prescott, having other fights, you could see the hunger was fading. Because I was going into fights, winning fights and even though I adopted a show of getting tougher and tougher, I was still walking through fights and like I said, the hunger goes, the distractions were there. And we never looked at the mistakes in the fights. When you're winning things and you're in the fights, you never look at the bad points. It was only when the Prescott defeat happened we started looking at the bad things. We sat round the table with the whole team and said look, why did this happen? We looked at everything, not only the fight, the things outside the ring and the appearances I was doing and the work outside the ring and the distractions and everything else, staying up late the night before. So the best move was to get away from all of this, that's one of the reasons we went to LA and trained out there. To get away from everyone and focus and when we get back, to live with the coaches in a hotel or house and still stay focused. Because since I've got back from LA, it's still a camp. I still have to stay focused and that's why I'm not living at home. I'm living with the coaches and I've not seen my friends. I might see them at the gym when they're training or whatever, but I'm staying focused. Eating right, I'm still on my diet. Like I said, it's sometimes a blessing in disguise. The beating I had off Prescott probably made me a better fighter, inside and outside the ring. It's made me realise how tough the sport is and you have to stay focused and you have to be disciplined.
PF: And to what extent could this fight, coming so soon after that, be regarded as a gamble? It's kind of high stakes, isn't it? You've a lot to gain with it coming quickly after that, but a lot to lose as well.
AK: That's right. Every fight you have you've got a lot to lose and a lot to gain from the fight. But with this fight, I think it's the right time to have it. I'm going up there, from the Prescott fight, I'm a lot better as a fighter, a lot smarter as a fighter and it made me think about things more, not rushing, be more patient and made me train a lot harder. That's what I've been doing, that's why when the fight came along, I know what I've been doing, the work I've been putting in, and the confidence is always going to be there with me. Having lost one fight as a professional, that doesn't bother me. I had 110 amateur fights and lost nine, and losing those nine made me a better fighter. So this loss, as a professional, it's made me a better fighter and a stronger fighter. That's why I don't want to keep a big fight out too long, I wanted to get back in the mix again. I think it is the right time. A lot of people might be thinking I'm taking this fight on too soon after defeat, but I think it's the best time to take it, while I've got the hunger in me and while I want to achieve it more than anything. I think this is the right time.
MI: We have a further question from Scott Fife of the Sunday Post. Go ahead please, Scott.
SC: Just a very quick one, Amir. Before the Fagin fight with you coming back after Prescott, were you more nervous than you normally would be ahead of the fight.
MI: Not to be honest with you. Everything was just like normal. They really let the Prescott fight get to me. The way I look at it is it was a fight that was meant to happen and it happened for the best. It helped me out more than anything. I think getting beaten by Prescott or if I'd beaten Prescott, I don't think I would have gone to LA and sparred with Manny Pacquiaio and trained with Freddie or been coached by Freddie and his team. Getting more skilful than ever. Getting beaten by Prescott made me change so many things. It's made me a better fighter inside and outside the ring and made me more focussed. So I think it's happened for a good reason and now this fight's come, I think it's the way it should be. Ignoring the Prescott defeat and once I beat Barrera, it's going to put me back up there in the mix and probably put me in the top ten in the world of the lightweight fighters. So I think this fight's going to be the one I need. Like I say, I'm going to shut all the critics up and all the people who are thinking can he do it or not. This is where I can shut a lot of people up and prove how good I am.
SC: Thanks for your time, Amir.
MI: Tom Hopkinson of the People would also like to ask another question. Go ahead, Tom.
TH: Just one quickie from me. You mentioned earlier the fact that you can't cheat with Jesse, Freddie and Michael watching you. Is there a time when you look back on your career and you think you maybe did cheat yourself during training sessions?
AK: Well, cheating yourself, not really because every time I train, I give it all. I have to walk out of the gym tired, even if it's an easy day, I'm one of those guys. I have to know that I've worked hard and done something. I've never walked out of the gym thinking that was an easy session. You have to be tough. But I think in the past when I had one trainer, it was just habits I had which was maybe throwing the left hook and having the right hand down or throwing the right hand and having the left hand down.
TH: Shift those habits, then.
AK: And the forward being too wide. I wasn't cheating myself, they were just habits I had. I picked up habits and I didn't correct myself. But having, like I said, Jesse and Michael, they saw that. I didn't really notice it but they noticed my hands dropping when I was going in and that's one of the reasons I was getting caught. I was going over my front foot, going in with my head sometimes which made my chin get raised up. Those little things, they were only small points, but just making those perfect will make you a better fighter and a fighter who's not going to expose himself. So that's what we've been doing really, working on the defensive stuff as well. Keeping the hands up and the elbows in, just being smarter more than anything.
TH: Lovely. Thanks, Amir.
MI: There appear to be no further questions coming through, Richard, so I'll give you back the conference.
RM: Great. If there are no further questions for Amir I will wrap it up there. Amir, thank you very much for joining the call today.
AK: Thank you mate, thank.
RM: Look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the media workout. If there are any further question, please give me a call and once again, thanks everyone for joining in. Bye.
MI: Gentlemen, you may now replace your handsets.