Boxing: It's make or break time for the new model Khan


Amir Khan turns 26 today but he must wait a week before acknowledging wishes for many happy returns. For when he wakes up next Sunday morning he will know if the party's on... or over.

His 12-round fight with the unbeaten Californian Carlos Molina in Los Angeles will either mark a new beginning or the untimely end of an eight-year professional career that has seen him become an emblematic, racially harmonising figure in British sport. Like Khan himself, that image has taken a bit of a bashing these past 12 months, with two defeats, the loss of his unified world light-welterweight titles and the sort of tabloid exposé which might have qualified him for membership of the Hacked Off campaign.

Shortly after announcing his engagement to the beautiful American Muslim heiress Faryal Makhdoom, Khan was featured on the front page of a Sunday red-top allegedly "romping" in Marbella with a couple of girl holidaymakers, one of whom was quoted as warning his 21-year-old fiancée: "Don't marry him, he's a cheat." There followed descriptions of "frolicking" with pals in a hot tub. Khan insists it was all harmless holiday fun with a few mates, and that no sexual activity was involved.

Nonetheless it was hardly the sort of publicity his new commercial agents, Saatchi and Saatchi, wanted to project as they picked up the pieces after his ring setbacks, a situation exacerbated when Khan subsequently alienated the US media by mistakenly seeming to suggest that one of the reasons why he decided to leave the revered trainer Freddie Roach after his last stoppage defeat – against Danny Garcia in the summer – was because Roach's work had become affected by incipient Parkinson's disease. Khan promptly apologised for the comment.

He admits that 2012 has been a difficult and embarrassing year and that mistakes have been made. But he claims his popularity remains undiminished. "The public know who Amir Khan is and what he is about," he says. "In the past 12 months my Twitter following has gone up by about 700,000.

"I am beautifully focused, and if anything it has made me work harder and be even more determined to get back to the top. I've changed a lot of things in my life and it's just about moving forward now." To that end he has transported Team Khan from Roach's Wild Card gym to the one in San Francisco where his new trainer, Virgil Hunter – his fourth in as many years – has been working on acknowledged defensive frailties.

We are promised a new and improved model. "You'll see a changed Amir Khan," Bolton's Olympic silver medallist tells us. "I won't be making the same mistakes again. I don't need to get into wars. I know I can give opponents boxing lessons and I'll stick to that."

Hunter's approach to Khan is more headmasterly than that of the fatherly Roach. "I think he needs to be that way," says Khan, "because he knows how I was before, doing things how I wanted them done and not listening. Now I'm listening more, which has gone back to how it was when I was 17 and still learning."

"Keep him away from punchers," was the parting shot from Roach, and in selecting fellow Golden Boy Molina, also 26, for Khan's 30th bout his camp appear to have done exactly that. Molina has not lost in 18 fights but the majority of his opponents are relatively unknown and he has stopped only seven of them.

On paper it should be a reasonably comfortable comeback for Khan. In the ring it may be different if, as some fear, extracurricular activities – including huge amounts of charity work – plus the recent series of taxing contests have taken a worrying toll on his career.

Have we seen the best of Khan or, as the man himself insists, is that still to come? No one is more aware that his career will go belly- up should he take another beating.

There can be no questioning his bravery, but can you teach a bold dog new tricks?

Khan v Molina is live on Sky Sports 1 HD and on mobile and tablet devices via Sky Go next Sunday from 2am

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable