Amir Khan interview quotes – Crawford vs. Khan

Thank you everyone for joining us on the international conference call as we get ready for the inaugural Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view broadcast, Crawford vs. Khan, April 20 at Madison Square Garden.

The stacked undercard features lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez in a 12-round test against Edis Tatli, 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson versus former world title challenger Christopher Diaz in a 10-round featherweight tilt, and a crossroads 10-round lightweight battle between Felix Verdejo and Bryan Vasquez.

Details on how fans will be able to access the pay-per-view event will be announced at a later date.

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Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions, tickets priced at $606, $406, $306, $206, $106, $81, and $56 (including facility fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.

AMIR KHAN: Training is going really well. I am here in San Francisco and really liked getting back with {head trainer} Virgil {Hunter}. I really believe he knows me better than anyone else – than any other trainer. In fact, I was with {Joe Goossen} because Virgil was a little sick, and I had to make a quick change. Now I am back with Virgil. I have had my best performances in boxing with Virgil, great wins, and I couldn’t wait to join with him again. Since we began camp, everything has been going really well. We are sparring hard, training hard, and going to be in great condition because we know that Terence is a great fighter. I respect the way he fights, and I respect that he’s done it again and again and he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Also, my conditioning coach Tony Brady is here. The camp I have had is great and I’m happy with it. About Terence Crawford – I am not taking this fight lightly and I am not taking it to be a number because I know I can win this fight with my boxing skills, being smart, and I can go in there and cause a big upset. I know I have a lot against me, but this is where I like to be. This is where I like to be because I am the underdog. I am at my best when people are looking over me. This is the time where I can come and prove everybody wrong, and I feel that timing-wise, this is the perfect timing for this fight. I always wanted to be up there in the pound-for-pound rankings. I am 32 now and I feel strong physically and mentally. I am prepared for this fight, so this is perfect timing for me to take this fight and win the fight as well. I had another fight in the UK against Kell Brook, but {I believe} this fight is stylistically better for me. Obviously, this is with ESPN, who I want to thank as well. I think that being on ESPN, the fight will be even bigger, and it will be good for my recognition for me as well in the future. Yes, training is still going strong three weeks away from the fight, and I am going to be more than ready.

You had a fight in the UK against Kell Brook that you could have taken and would have been huge there. How did you come to take the Crawford fight?

AMIR KHAN: I love fighting in the States. I have had some big performances here, and I wanted to come back here and put on a big show. New York is one of my favorite locations in America, so when this fight was put to me, I knew it was going to be a big fight, so I decided to take this fight with both hands and make sure that if I take this fight I am going to win this fight.

Breaking down the fight, Terence is a very skillful fighter, and I always do well against skillful fighters. This is going to be like a game of chess at times. He comes forward and can punch well and likes to fight as well. So, it’s the best of both worlds and he doesn’t fight the same as me. I have fought at welterweight, so I am basically the bigger guy physically. I have been in the division longer, so I’ve got that advantage on my side. I’m the bigger guy so that is on my side. People may think from my last performance against {Samuel} Vargas I’m going to be the same, but that was very bad. I thought I could just go in there and win the fight. It’s hard to motivate yourself against guys where you are supposed to win. All you have to do is turn up then because you know you have better skills. But this fight, this is where I have to bring my ‘A’ game, make sure that I cannot make any mistakes. I’ll go in as the underdog, prove myself and win this fight.

Were you thinking that “this is a huge opportunity against a great fighter in a huge PPV and at Madison Square Garden” and that Kell Brook will always be there?

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AMIR KHAN: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if that fight is still going to be there. I have seen numerous times in the media that {promoter} Eddie {Hearn} is saying that the Brook fight is dead and it’s not going to happen. Hey, look, who knows, time will tell. I take it fight by fight. Let’s get this fight out of the way first and then we take it from there. That fight may never happen, but it may happen, so I just take it one fight at a time, as it comes really.

Bob, when you were looking for Terence’s next opponent, was Khan at the top of your list or were there others?

BOB ARUM: The first thing is, ‘What’s the best fight we can do,’ and I have always been an Amir Khan fan. I don’t say this now because I am promoting him in this fight, but I remember back in the day years and years ago when Amir Khan joined Manny Pacquiao in his camp and was a tremendously skillful partner. Amir knows we were – he was in the Philippines when he participated in that camp – so look, I know a little bit about boxing and our matchmakers are tremendously skilled, but I’ve been around over 50 years in this sport and I know what makes a good fight, and what’s a competitive fight, and I’m telling you that Amir Khan versus Terence Crawford is a hugely competitive fight. Styles make fights, and this is the first pay per view event that we are doing with ESPN and we value tremendously our relationship with ESPN. And I want going in, and at the fight, going out, everybody to say, “It was a great, great fight.” I really believe that the fight will be a tremendous, interesting, competitive fight. That’s why we made it. That’s the truth. There are other fighters, other welterweights, that are coming along that will one day step up to fight for a title, but this fight, instinctively, I know, and my matchmakers agree, was a very competitive fight. You have to understand there are very few fighters that have the boxing skills of Amir Khan. Very, very few, so I look at this as a very competitive fight.

Does fighting in New York bring back any special memories or give you motivation?

AMIR KHAN: My in-laws live in New York and I send a lot of time over there. My {second WBA super lightweight title defense} was at MSG, the smaller one, and that was a great performance against Paulie Malignaggi. And ever since. all of my fans have been saying, ‘why don’t you fight in New York again?’ A lot of my fights have been in Vegas and LA – on the west coast. I think this is the time now where I come back for the big fight.

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Have you watched Crawford’s Benavidez and Horn fights?

AMIR KHAN: The fight is going to be a tough fight. He is a very good skilled fighter with power. He’s durable, he moves well, and he boxes well. For me to win this fight, I have to be on my ‘A’ game and not make any mistakes, but he is still maybe quite new in the welterweight division. But you can see he is quite filled out, and for the welterweight division, his height is good. I am not going to go in there thinking I am stronger and a physically bigger fighter. I am going to in there and use my skills to win this fight. That’s what is going to win this fight – not the size or the power – it’s going to be my IQ and my skills.

How did you decide this fight warranted being on pay-per-view?

BOB ARUM: It’s really a combination. The match-up warrants a pay-per-view. and it is such a big fight. This is professional boxing, and the fighters have to be compensated because it is such a big fight, and therefore you cannot rely on a network to constantly come up with big, big money as a rights fee. So, if the fight is big enough, you then have to go to the public and say to the public, ‘Hey this is a terrific fight, you have to support the fight.’ Sometimes the public says no. If we have confidence in the event, they will say yes. That’s really what it is about. We can stop playing the games of whether the fight should be pay-per-view or shouldn’t be pay-per-view. The first question is, ‘Is it a really good matchup, an interesting event,’ and secondly, ‘Is it affordable on television? Can the rights fee support the fight?’ In this case, we have a splendid event and we have fighters who have to be, and should be, compensated for their performances and therefore you go to pay-per-view. That is the mindset. Everything else is noise.

Does the media attention affect you as you get ready for this fight?

AMIR KHAN: My first fight as a professional, I was the main attraction on television and I had all the media and the press conferences and the conference calls and everything. I have had a lot of media attention from day one as a professional and I have been going 14 years strong. The big media coverage {comes} with it. I love that kind of pressure on me and to cope with that pressure and to deal with that pressure really helps me when I go into the camp. When I go into a fight, I make sure that it is not on my mind. That’s the last thing I think about, all of the pressure. One thing I want to say is there is a lot of talk about Crawford with Spence, who just came off a fight. All of those people should be talking about Spence against me. I’m not just a number. I know when I have to turn it on. I can turn it on. Maybe in previous fights, I won the fight, but maybe I didn’t look the best. But I know I belong at the level of both. I am one of those fighters that if I am fighting a guy that is supposed to be at the top of his game that will bring me to the top of my game and bring the best out of me. If Crawford is talking about maybe that fight happening and overlooking me, it’s going to be a big shock. I’m going to be ready. We’ve both been hurt in fights. I am a fully-fledged welterweight. This division is hard, and I’ve had good knockouts. I’m an unbeaten welterweight fighter and it is the weight I feel comfortable at and the weight where I feel stronger, as well, and the speed and the perfect size.

I fought Canelo and that was maybe too much, but even that fight I think I was winning. When it comes to boxing skills and being smart and knowing that I couldn’t make any mistakes, I got hit with a big shot that probably would have knocked out any welterweight. But this is where I want to tell everybody I’m not just a number – I’m not just going to come into this fight to just make it a night of boxing. I’m coming to win this fight.

How much did fighting at the Garden factor into your decision to take this fight over Kell Brook?

AMIR KHAN: New York is where my wife is from. I have a big fan base there. I enjoy walking the streets of New York and getting loved by the boxing fans. I love the place and have been spending a lot of time there. Also, MSG is the Mecca of Boxing and all of the great boxers that have fought there back to the beginning – I want to be amongst them. One day when I am walking the streets with my kids and I’ll be walking past it and say, ‘Look, I fought there.’ It means a lot to me. New York is a place I will always be attached to.

What has been your favorite venue to date?

AMIR KHAN: There have been a few looking back on my career. There have been many, but Madison Square Garden will be at the top. It is the Mecca of Boxing, and there have been some huge fights there and to get a win there will be even more amazing and it would be one of the biggest fights of my career. I have fought at MGM and T-Mobile and I also fought Chris Algieri in Brooklyn. As a boxer, I have had the opportunity to fight in all of these locations, but MSG will be up there as the best, I have to say.

How do you relax to ready yourself for a fight of this magnitude?

AMIR KHAN: I have been in this game for 14 years and 10 years fighting at the top level, so I just learn as I go along. I am no spring chicken where I am young and still learning. I have been through this numerous times and have learned when to rest, when to talk and when to do things right. It comes with age, and it comes with experience to be in this position and learned over the past 10 years.

What is your plan for after this fight?

AMIR KHAN: I never look past fights. I made the mistake of doing that when I was younger, and I only take it fight by fight. There are a lot of big fights out there for me; it just depends on how long I want to be in the game for. I want to spend time with my family so let’s see. After the fight and after the press conference is when we can talk about this.

We have seen that Crawford actually likes to fight as southpaw even though he is right-handed. How do you plan to fight Crawford and how do you plan to counteract?

AMIR KHAN: We have been bringing in different guys in sparring. Some of the guys are southpaw and some are orthodox. I am not leaving anything behind. I am working with four guys. If he wants to fight me {as a southpaw}, then so be it. We are ready for anything he brings to the table. We are not leaving anything behind on this. I am not going to go into the fight and say, ‘wow, I didn’t expect this.’ I have been learning a little bit from each of my training partners.

Twitter world is wondering if Bob Arum writes his own tweets and maybe you can set the record straight right here…

BOB ARUM: People think I don’t know how to work Twitter? We all know how to work Twitter. The President of the United States uses Twitter. Yes, I work Twitter, and I think it’s a great service. You can say a lot of things on Twitter, and fans read them and respond. Sometimes they like them and sometimes they don’t like them and sometimes they say the most horrible things in response to them. I think it is a lot of fun and it is the modern way to educate fans and to reach fans, so yes, I am a big Twitterer myself and I do three or four tweets a week, so yeah, I plead guilty to writing my own tweets.

So this may be the only time you have agreed with the President of the United States…

BOB ARUM: Yes, that is really true, but I use it better than he does.

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