Boxing: Khan must slow down to keep world dream alive

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The Independent Online

Amir Khan vows he will be a world champion within his next five fights. His promoter, Frank Warren, keeps telling him it will take at least twice as long. The Bolton Express is 21 on 8 December but he has already come of age in the ring by winning the Commonwealth lightweight title in only his 13th paid bout, and with senior pros Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe nudging towards the end of their careers, he carries the future of British boxing in his flashing fists.

But is he in too much of a hurry? His impetuosity cost him an embarrassing knockdown when he won that title from Willie Limond two months ago. Now some of those who were with him in his amateur days reckon he is no longer as controlled or measured as he was when he won his Olympic silver medal, and is trying too hard to impress.

Only fools rush in, and Khan acknowledges that changes have had to be made, that he needs to slow down. "I've changed my style," he tells us. "I was leaning forward too much, being a bit over-eager and leaving my chin exposed. I let the excitement of fighting for a title get to me."

He promises we will see a different Khan when he defends his title against the English champion, Scott Lawton, at Nottingham Arena on Saturday. "A lot of people thought the Limond fight had taken me down a couple of pegs but in fact it has made me a betterfighter. It was a wake-up call."

Khan, who has been chilling out in the Bolton Wanderers cryotherapy unit, is shortly to open his own £700,000 community gym, with a computer room where kids can do their homework. No doubt he will have done his on Stoke's Lawton, 31, who has lost three of his 24 bouts, the last against the British champion,Jon Thaxton. He is a decent technician but not a noted puncher. But then neither was Limond. So, Amir, hands up, chin down and back in the old routine.

Clinton Woods retained his IBF light-heavyweight title in his home city of Sheffield last night with a ferocious and unanimous points victory over the brave Mexican Julio Gonzalez.

Fighting for the first time in 12 months after undergoing two painful bouts of elbow surgery, Woods summoned a performance of seething intensity to see off his rival 117-111, 115-113, 116-112, finally building on his career-best win over recognised world No 1 Glen Johnson a year ago.

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