Boxing: Khan braced for Gomez battle before world title opportunity

Michael Gomez will celebrate his 31st birthday on 21 June by fighting Amir Khan in front of 10,000 people at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Gomez, who was born in Ireland in the back of a car that crashed taking his mother to hospital, first won the British super-featherweight title nine years ago but that was just the start of a career that has had both excessive highs and dreadful lows. Since 1999 he has won and lost a version of the world title, and perhaps his finest performance was a ruthless stoppage of Alex Arthur in 2003.

Khan is now ranked in the top 10 of all the respectable sanctioning bodies at lightweight but he has to make sure that he treats Gomez, who has lost eight of 43 fights, with respect. The bout is scheduled for 12 rounds but it seems that everybody involved expects it to last far less, including Gomez who knows that he will have to take a risk. "Khan is a nice tidy boxer but I will make him fight and do everything legal to stop him boxing," Gomez said.

He is likely to be the last British boxer to face Khan before the concerted effort to secure a world title shot for the Bolton fighter begins. Khan and his management team, including promoter Frank Warren, have spoken to several leading contenders and world champions at lightweight about contests by the end of the year.

"Gomez is one of the toughest boxers currently fighting in Britain and I can tell from his eyes that he thinks he can beat me," Khan said. "I am glad that he feels that way because I like it when a fighter comes to win and I know that Gomez will try."

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