Boxing: Mayweather session leaves Khan looking for fresh directions

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The Independent Online

Ricky Hatton's nemesis, Floyd Mayweather, has an ominous message for the Hitman. "Tell him I went easy on him because I kinda like the guy, but if we fight again at Wembley, which is what he wants, I'll really turn it on. There'll be no mercy this time." The chilling warning was delivered in Las Vegas to Amir Khan, when the Commonwealth lightweight champion spent an educational hour in Mayweather's flamboyant company before the Calzaghe-Hopkins fight.

Khan was invited to Mayweather's gym for a workout and was surprised when the welterweight champ, recognised as the world's supreme fighting machine, offered advice. "I couldn't believe it," Khan says. "He seemed to know everything about me, where I came from, who I'd fought, how many knock-outs I've had.

"I went on the pads with his uncle and trainer Roger, who told me what I was doing right and a few things I was doing wrong. Then Floyd got into the ring and said, 'No, do it this way'. They made me do it 10 times to get it right. Floyd complimented me on my speed and power and showed me some defensive stuff. I really learned something new. It was fantastic."

It may well have been this masterclass that clinched Khan's decision to split with his British trainer Oliver Harrison, who coached him through 17 winning fights. According to Khan's father Shah, "a few hiccups and glitches" led to the media-shy Harrison, seemingly irritated by the demands made on Khan outside the ring, losing his tutor's role.

Dean Powell, a ringwise cornerman who also makes the matches for Khan under Frank Warren's promotional aegis, will work with him for his next fight, a defence of his Commonwealth title in Birmingham on 21 June, while Khan's people seek to recruit a top American trainer to further his accelerating world-title quest. It is unlikely to be the volatile Roger Mayweather, due to his commitment to his nephew. Highly rated Buddy McGirt and Freddie Roach are in the frame.

Khan is expected to sign up with Warren again for the next phase of his career but the Birmingham fight, probably against a British opponent, looks like being his last with ITV, despite huge viewing figures. His fans may need to subscribe to Setanta as ITV, with their massive new financial investment in football, no longer seem willing to splash the cash on big-time boxing – and Khan doesn't come cheap. Yet they will show Junior Witter's third defence of his World Boxing Council light-welterweight title in Nottingham on Saturday.

It is a belated showcase for Witter to demonstrate why Hatton, who calls him "Knobhead", has avoided the Bradford fighter all these years. "I've tried to make it happen but the only one who's prevented it is him," says Witter. "Apart from going round to his house, beating on the door and getting myself arrested, there's nothing more I can do."

His opponent, Timothy Bradley, sounds more like a perennial British first- round loser at Wimbledon than an unbeaten slugger from Palm Springs who has knocked out half of his 21 opponents. But these were hardly A-list, and if Witter can reproduce the form he showed in blasting out the highly rated Vivian Harris in his last fight, he should be too clever for the 24-year-old counter-puncher known as "Desert Storm".

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