Boxing: Khan antics stun Mitchell

Until a few months ago they were the best of boxing buddies but now their careers are separated by the width of the Atlantic and heading towards a fascinating rivalry. By coincidence both Kevin Mitchell and Amir Khan will display their considerable talents next weekend within a few hours of each other in live TV mega-fights.

Mitchell, 25, whom promoter Frank Warren calls "my diamond in the rough", tackles the Aussie hardman Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO lightweight belt at West Ham's Upton Park on Saturday night, the winner either meeting champion Juan Manuel Marquez for the full title or being installed as champion if, as speculated, the Mexican vacates it. Six hours later, Khan, 23, makes his US debut with a second defence of his WBA light-welterweight title against flashy New Yorker Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden. Khan faces an opponent who can't punch, Mitchell one who most certainly can.

Khan's defection has finally released Mitchell from his shadow to be Warren's new head boy, a situation he finds easier to cope with than Khan apparently has in becoming Golden Boy's latest star acquisition. Because of unexplained difficulties in obtaining a visa to box professionally in the US, Khan had to move his training camp at Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym in Los Angeles to Vancouver. His clean-cut image has also been damaged by a story in a British tabloid that he sent "lewd" texts and photos to a model he met in a Hollywood nightclub.

"I am shocked and saddened to hear this stuff," says Mitchell. "If nothing else, what was he doing in a nightclub while preparing for a world-title fight? Amir is a lovely fellow and we've been good mates but I think all the money and hype has gone to his head. He's obviously let the Hollywood lifestyle get to him. He's beginning to believe his own publicity, even talking about fighting Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather next year.

"He's not in their league. He's too vulnerable. You can't put muscles on his chin. If he couldn't go a round with Breidis Prescott [the Colombian whom Mitchell later brilliantly outpointed] he wouldn't last two rounds with them. He's just making himself look foolish and I feel gutted for him."

It was a subdued Khan we spoke to in Vancouver, saying: "It's all been a bit of a distraction." But he added: "I'm one of those guys who can shut everything out. I've turned off my Twitter and Facebook pages, even my mobile phone. I'm just totally focused on what I have to do to beat Malignaggi."

Mitchell says Khan has taken a soft option in meeting Malignaggi, who was thrashed in 11 rounds by Ricky Hatton: "He's a skilful boxer with fast hands but he can't break an egg." Khan demurs: "Malignaggi is a lot tougher opponent than Katsidis, who is always there to be hit and has never won a world title. I am fighting a former world champion who has been in with great fighters like Hatton and Miguel Cotto. I would rather fight Katsidis than Malignaggi." It should be a walk in Central Park against a mouthy opponent Roach calls "an asshole" because of his unproven allegations that steroids are used in Roach's LA gym.

Mitchell knows he is in for a rough, tough night but he can win on points if he sticks to the intelligent hit-and-move tactics that confounded Prescott. Under his new trainer, Jimmy Tibbs, he boxes behind a stiff jab, while his eye for an opening is as sharp as ever.

The likeable, chirpy "Dagenham Destroyer" shudders to think of the dark days when he was close to bankruptcy during a year out with hand injuries. "I had a massive tax bill which, like the mortgage, I couldn't pay. Me and my partner Amanda had a baby on the way and I ended up working on the railways at nights as a cleaner and labourer so we could eat. Fortunately Frank [Warren] helped me out, which is one reason I would never walk out on him as Amir did." The man Warren calls "the Wayne Rooney of boxing" is undefeated in 31 fights.

If he meets Khan, he has no doubt about the outcome. "I may be smaller but I hit harder. I'd knock him out because I know how to. Knocking people cold gives me a buzz. In any case I think he'll get beaten before I can get to him.

"I've heard Amir is getting over a million dollars for fighting Malignaggi. Bloody hell, for a million dollars I'd fight 10 Mike Tysons."

Mitchell v Katsidis live on Sky Sports 1 from 8pm on Saturday. Tickets available from Ticketmaster on 0844 847 2500. Khan v Malignaggi live on ITV1 from 2.45am on Sunday

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola, writes Ian Herbert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her
voices Thank you Zoë Ball for saying what all parents are afraid to admit...
Tim Sherwood celebrates after Aston Villa open the scoring against West Brom
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn