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

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home