Boxing: Khan comes of age against a master of the dark arts

Marco Antonio Barrera apologised for being unable to take an earlier call. He had been out running in a park near his mother's home in Mexico City, an ominous indication of how seriously he is taking next Saturday's fight with Amir Khan.

But now he was ready to talk and to assure us that when he arrives in the UK this morning he is not coming just for a payday. We knew that already, for Barrera has Mexican pride. When he steps into the ring against Khan at Manchester's MEN Arena he will, as his promoter Don King bellows, be in it to win it.

Whether he does depends upon how well Khan has assimilated the lessons learned from his KO defeat by Breidis Prescott and the expert tutelage of Freddie Roach in Hollywood's Wild Card gym.

Roach will have prepared him to be on his guard against the wiles of an opponent who knows all the tricks of the dark trade. It was Barrera who rammed Naseem Hamed's head into a ring post when Naz got uppity in a featherweight title fight in Las Vegas.

But eight years have passed and the little hard man once known as the Baby-Faced Assassin, whom I would put in my top 10 fighters of the past 50 years, surely has mislaid his competitive edge. We hope.

He warns: "What I did to Hamed I can do to Khan. That may have been eight years ago but while I have grown older [he is 35] I am also more experienced. I still have the hunger to win another world title [it would be his sixth in four weight divisions].

"I have seen something of Amir, he has very fast hands, like Hamed, and he has youth but he has never met anyone with the knowledge and skills that I have."

Barrera says the inch-long cut on his forehead which he received recently in the last of his 75 bouts has healed well. "It is no problem. They say Khan has a weak chin, but I will not be concentrating on that, I will give him other things to think about."

For Khan, 22, this will be a test of the heart as well as the chin. But the one thing that he doesn't lack is bottle. Give him a pair of stilts and he would fancy his chances against Vitali Klitschko.

On a bill that features WBO title bouts involving the cruiserweight Enzo Maccarinelli and super-featherweight Nicky Cook, the fight is officially a world title eliminator. Khan says: "I've spoken to Naz. He's given me a few tips and he's confident I can beat him. This is a brilliant opportunity for me. I can't wait to shut up a lot of people after all the crap that was flying around following the Prescott defeat.

"Barrera will try and push me around but I won't get involved in his game. I know every move he's going to make. My gameplan will be about patience. I won't be rushing hands down, chin up. You'll see a new Amir Khan."

Significantly, Khan has four inches in height and 13 years on Barrera, and at the lightweight limit he is likely to be too big and too fast for a seasoned scrapper who has known better days. But nobody should blink, least of all Amir himself.

Khan v Barrera will be shown on Sky Box Office on Saturday from 9pm. Call 08442 410 888

News
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food and drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried