Boxing: Amir leaves teens with title in sight

The boy wonder is approaching 20, and ready for the next step towards the top

"If someone said something like that to me, I'd walk away," Amir Khan, a football fan, said of Zinedine Zidane's head-rebuttal of Marco Materazzi's insults in the World Cup final. "But they never have."

One doubts they ever will. Amir may share the same religion as the French football captain but not his volcanic temperament, though it would surely be unwise for any putative opponent to engage in a bit of sledging in the clinches, as present form suggests he would quite legitimately be treated to a spot of instant pain.

Kid Khan is growing up. It is exactly a year this weekend since Amir, still only 18 and fresh from his Olympian heroics, stepped into the prize ring with a contract that made him one of the country's youngest millionaires. Eight fights, and eight wins, later he will be returning on 2 September to the venue where he made his professional debut, the Bolton Arena adjoining his home-town football club, for what could be the passing-out parade of his initial apprenticeship.

Amir will be 20 on 8 December, a milestone which makes him eligible to fight for a title, something he aims to do within his next three or four contests. This is why the Bolton date is likely to be his last six- rounder.

He had hoped that his next opponent would be Craig Watson, but it seems that the only man to floor him in his amateur days is not yet up for it. So Amir, as usual, will take whoever they put in front of him.

The show is already heading towards a 8,500 sell-out. "He is another little macho man, like Nigel Benn," says his promoter, Frank Warren. "He can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end."

Amir himself reckons he is "three or four fights away from a title shot". He wants to be a champion by this time next year. "I have always believed had I gone on to Beijing I would have won the gold, but if I do win a world title before the next Games I know it will have been the right decision to turn professional," he said.

So how does his first annual report rate his performance? "Quite good, I would say. Nine out of 10, maybe. But I know that there's still a lot to learn."

What pleases him most, he says, is the reaction of the public. "Half the people who stop me in the street have never seen boxing before, or disliked it, but they say after seeing me on the box they have a different view.

"I learned from watching Muhammad Ali that boxing isn't just about going into the ring and beating each other up. He had style and made it an entertainment. I want to do the same. When I finish a fight I want to hear people clapping not just because I have won but because they have enjoyed it.

"But I keep my feet on the ground. I was at my cousin's wedding recently and there were some people from Pakistan who didn't even know I was a boxer. When I told them they asked: 'Where's your bashed-up nose?' I don't look like a boxer, do I? That's the image I want to keep."

One criticism is that while Amir's punching has been sharp and snappy it has lacked real pay-off potency. He is aware of this, and revealed: "I picked up a couple of hand injuries in my early fights - something I never had as an amateur - and I have been terrified of hurting them. My right still niggles a bit, which is why I have not been punching as hard as know I can. But I have seen a specialist and he's told me not to worry as I'm young and my bones are still growing. He says they will have fully developed in a few months, so I should be OK. Once that happens I will start knocking people out."

While Amir was dispatching opponent No 7, Colin Bain, in two rounds in Cardiff last week, heavyweights Matt Skelton and Danny Williams trundled through a 12-rounder which underlined the poor quality of the division. Apparently the "Beast from the East", the 7ft 2in Russian Nicolay Valuev, wants to see a video of the fight before deciding whether to defend his WBA title against the victorious Skelton. He is unlikely to be fazed.

In contrast, Williams has already been fixed up with another fight, if he wants it, as a challenger for his old British title now held by Scott Gammer, 29. The Welshman is unbeaten in 17 bouts and will remain so if Williams reproduces the same lardy lethargy that saw him hauling his 20st 8lb bulk around against Skelton. Just what goes on in cake-a-holic Williams' mind? Mike Tyson, the man whose career he famously ended, was said, in his more erudite moments, to have a fondness for Rudyard Kipling. Alas in Williams' case it is Mr Kipling.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?