Boxing: Gomez wins verbal fight ahead of Khan bout

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The Independent Online

It is unlikely that Michael Gomez will shock British boxing and beat Amir Khan in Birmingham tonight, but yesterday the Manchester veteran finally played a role in the fight's build-up. Verbally, at least, he left his opponent in tatters.

Gomez, who is 31 today, laughed at suggestions he was scared of coming face to face with Khan and had avoided Wednesday's press conference because of it. He said he had been told to stay in bed and rest by his nutritionist, Kevin Maree.

"Is he [Khan] off his head?" asked Gomez, who in addition to an unconventional birth – in the backseat of a car in a Dublin ditch – has also been acquitted of murder and declared dead, for 48 seconds, after a stabbing. "Scared? After what I've been through he's crazy to think that."

In theory Gomez is an ideal opponent for Khan because he is awkward and, on occasions, dirty in the ring. That is something Khan has not yet had to deal with in his professional career.

"This fight means more to me than any of the others and I've made the sacrifices," Gomez said. "I've not been to the boozer since Christmas and anybody who knows Michael Gomez knows that is an enormous sacrifice."

On Wednesday Khan responded to a rumour that Gomez had turned to Khan's former trainer, Oliver Harrison, for advice. Khan was critical of Harrison, who was sacked by the young boxer by post in April, after 17 fights and three years together.

"I invented that rumour. That was me and my nutcase trainer, Bobby Rimmer, and Khan fell for it – he's trying to get under my skin but he looks to me like he is the one losing his cool," Gomez said. "I even started another rumour about how I was going to box him but I couldn't box if I tried – I'm an old-fashioned fighter but he seemed to think that the rumour was true.

"I know that he has all of the advantages and that the bookies have made him a heavy favourite, and trust me I know a thing or two about bookmakers. But I don't think the public are in love with him as much as he thinks."

Tonight Khan, providing he remains calm and avoids getting cut, will simply be too strong and too fast for Gomez, and the fight will most likely end round about round four. However, up until the referee's intervention it will certainly be a lively encounter.