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Alexander: I don’t see anything special with Khan

Lisa Milner


Thank you so much, everybody, for calling in today. This call officially kicks off the “ROYAL BATTLE: Khan vs. Alexander” fight week activities. We have both Khan and Alexander on the call today; we will start with Devon Alexander and his trainer, Kevin Cunningham.

Before I turn the call over to Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy Promotions’ president and founder, to make the official introductions, I just wanted to remind everybody that Wednesday we will have our grand arrivals and workouts at 1:00 p.m. at MGM Grand right next to the sports book. And on Thursday we will have the final press conference with all of the televised and non-televised fighters; that will be at 11:30 a.m. in the media center. And on Friday, of course, we have the final weigh-in.

We have a lot of media on the call today, which just shows how big this fight really is and that we are going to end the year with a bang. To talk a little bit more about the fight, I am going to now turn it over to Oscar Da La Hoya, founder and president of Golden Boy Promotions.

Oscar De La Hoya

Thank you, thank you very much, Lisa. Yes, we are here, fight week. “ROYAL BATTLE” is going to be an entertaining card from top to bottom, headlined by Amir Khan versus Devon Alexander. We are just thrilled to be giving you a such an amazing card from top to bottom with a co-main event featuring Keith Thurman against Leonard Bundu which will be a WBA welterweight title fight scheduled for 12 rounds. We also have Abner Mares, we have Jermall Charlo, and we also have the return of Victor Ortiz, which, I’m hearing, he’s looking better and stronger and faster, mentally tough. We’re really looking forward to this event being a great one.

At this moment, let me take this opportunity to introduce to you our first participant, he is accompanied by his great trainer, Kevin Cunningham. And let me introduce to you, to say a few words, before we start the Q&A, Devon Alexander.

Devon Alexander

Hello, thanks, Oscar. How are you guys doing? To all the media, thanks for having me. Thanks for being on the call. Like everyone said, this is a tremendous opportunity for me. I’m excited to actually get my chance to be in the bright lights at MGM Grand.

This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for since I was three years old and I’m going to take full advantage of it. So, again, I want to thank Golden Boy; I want to thank all the participants who got this fight done and I’m ready to rock and roll.

O. De La Hoya

Alright, thank you very much. And you can’t have a great fighter without having a great trainer. And at this moment, let me introduce to you, to also say a few words and speak about the preparation and what’s been going on behind the scenes, that is the great Kevin Cunningham.

Kevin Cunningham

I want to thank everybody on the call; thanks to all the press and the media for taking time out for this conference call. It’s a huge fight; huge ramifications. And thanks to everybody involved; Golden Boy, Al Haymon, Great Promotions, Khan Promotions.

For the most part, this is the type of fight that every fighter wants; a very big fight, it’s the end of the year so it’s the last fight of the year and it’s one of the biggest fights of the year. So we plan on ending the year with a bang. This fight will catapult the winner into Mayweather sweepstakes, Pacquiao sweepstakes, so it’s huge; it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Devon’s up for it; we had a tremendous training camp, great sparring, and we’re ready to go.

O. De La Hoya

Before we go to Amir and Virgil, let me just give you a few details on the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event that’s taking place this Saturday. The telecast will begin at 6:00 p.m. PT. This event is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Khan Promotions and Great Promotions. We are also extremely proud and happy to be working alongside our great sponsors that Golden Boy has. Thanks Corona Extra, thanks to AT&T, and Mexico-Live It To Believe It! The tickets are priced at $300, $200, $100, and $50; tickets are going excellent and we do expect a tremendous turn out. That goes to show you what kind of fight this is.

This is an even fight, this is a fight that, obviously, will put both guys in line, once again, for that Mayweather sweepstakes. So we are really looking forward to, once again, showcasing this event live from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. So we feel that the winner of this event will obviously move on to that and hit the lottery with, hopefully, a Mayweather fight down the line.

We have, also, SHOWTIME EXTREME, which I mentioned, which will be showcasing the highlights of Victor Ortiz. Errol Spence, Jr will be on the telecast as well. We have Jermell Charlo versus Mario Lozano; that’ll be a 10-round junior middleweight fight. So this card is really stacked and we are really looking forward to it.

So, now for all the media, we can now go to a couple of questions before we go into Amir Khan.

Q

This fightwas supposed to have taken place a year ago. How different is it, fighting him a year later?

K. Cunningham

Well, fighting him now, the only thing different about the fight is the fact that we’re not coming in as the champion. That’s the only difference I see in it.

D. Alexander

Well, me personally, I feel the same way, just I’m not champion anymore, but the stakes are still high and the reward is still there. So, there’s no difference. Not one of us has lost recently, so I don’t see any difference. Both of us are still going to be hungry, both of us know what’s at stake, so it’s no different.

Q

Kevin, did you prepare Devon a little differently, given that Amir might be a different fighter now that Virgil Hunter’s working with him?

K. Cunningham

Well, we prepared based off the challenge ahead of us and the opponent ahead of us. Each opponent is different so we prepare based off what we’re dealing with and what style and the type of opponent we dealing with. There’s always different preparations for each fighter because there’s different styles, different techniques, so you got to come with different strategies for different opponents.

We prepared for Amir Khan, the best Amir Khan that could possibly show up Saturday night; that’s who we prepared for. He’s with Virgil and he’s a better fight since — he looks to me to have improved since being trained by Virgil Hunter and that’s the Amir Khan we prepared for.

The fact that Virgil is his trainer and Virgil happens to be, also, a good friend of mine, that just got my juices flowing even more so that could be trouble for Khan.

Q

Kevin, you’re focused on Devon getting in the ring with Amir Khan, you got to win the fight. But, is it at all, in your mind, that this is, maybe, that last step to the big mega fight that you’ve wanted for some time?

K. Cunningham

Definitely. I didn’t say the fight wasn’t as big because we weren’t coming in as champion because the stakes are still high and the whole purpose of the first fight was to catapult the winner into a Mayweather mix. The stakes are still high and the ultimate prize is still there.

We’re just as excited, just as jacked up as we were for the first fight. It doesn’t get any bigger than this and we know what the stakes are, we know what the type of position that you’ll be put in coming off a win in this fight, so it doesn’t get any bigger than this. The fighters, I’m almost sure both fighters, but I know Devon for sure, is super excited, focused, and ready to go.

Q

Devon, can you speak about that? Do you try not to think about it? Does it motivate you? What are your thoughts about the prospect of putting on a performance against Amir on Saturday and then maybe propelling yourself into that caliber of an event?

D. Alexander

Well, like my coach said, this is definitely exciting and it’s in the back of my head. A fighter would be lying if they say, I’m not thinking about that; I’m thinking about the opponent ahead. But, you know they’ll be lying. So, it’s in the back of my head, but my sole focus is Amir Khan. Everybody knows what can be after the fight, but I’m focused on Amir Khan and what he brings to the table. After this, then we’ll talk. Other than that, my sole focus is on Amir Khan.

Q

The Porter fight was, by your own admission, not even close to your best performance. What do you think went wrong that night and how have you changed when you’re going in with Khan, who is probably a fighter that’s more on the same level of a Porter than of a Soto Karass?

D. Alexander

Well, in that fight I wasn’t thinking in that fight. I didn’t follow the game plan. Mentally I wasn’t there. Mentally I was just not using my skill in that fight. Mentally I just wasn’t there.

I didn’t use my legs. I took him a little lightly because I beat him in amateurs, but that’s no excuse. I know that the loss was from what I didn’t do; it’s not what Shawn Porter did and he was a magnificent fighter. He had all these skills. It was just something I didn’t do and it won’t happen again, I promise you.

Q

With Khan you then think that he fits into your style of fighting?

D. Alexander

Yeah, he fits — every fighter fits in my style of fighting. I just got to know their weaknesses and what I got to do is – out-power them and outsmart them. Everybody can be beaten. It’s about the team coming up with the game plan to beat the guy that’s in front of you. I don’t see anything special with Khan, he’s a little fast, but what else? Everybody’s fast. But what else, you’ve got to have something else in your arsenal at the top level.

Q

Why has it taken so long for you to make your way to Vegas? Was it something that just wasn’t on your radar or was it just the right opportunity never came along until now?

D. Alexander

Yeah. It was all because of opportunity. I wasn’t presented with a time to fight in Vegas. A couple of times, in the beginning of my career, when I was supposed to, it always fell through. But, like I said, I said to myself, whenever I do fight in Vegas, it’s going to be for something big and what’s bigger than this and at MGM Grand. So, I’m excited to be in Vegas for this one.

Q

Given all that’s going on in St. Louis and Ferguson, specifically, do you feel like this is a fight where you’re corner of the world really needs a win?

D. Alexander

Yeah. Yes, of course. I want to bring all the positivity. I know all of St. Louis is going to be looking at me from the Ferguson situation. They’re looking for something positive to come along with all of the rioting and everything like that. This win is going to make them feel like they won, too. So, I definitely want to make it; definitely want to look good and make a statement doing it and bring this victory back home to St. Louis.

Q

Outstanding. Alright, I’ve got a question; it could be for you and Kevin. Does it kind of bother you that it almost seems like civil rights is being ignored in boxing. Does bother you that nobody’s really speaking up?

D. Alexander

It’s just everybody — you get scrutinized when you come out and say something or it’s like you get punished for saying what you feel nowadays or just saying the truth. So, a lot of people are scared to say anything. If the time’s right for me to say something, I’m definitely going to say something. That’s just what it is. You have to be real sometimes and you have to tell the truth at times; you just can’t — you got to work out the consequences later. If it’s the truth and it’s real, then how can anybody argue with it?

K. Cunningham

I just think everybody’s wants to stay politically correct because everybody’s image-conscious so they’re focused on their image. You got corporate sponsors and you got to be careful about annoying your sponsors and whatnot. You don’t have a lot of the guys that stood up like the Muhammad Alis, the Jim Browns and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, who were back in the day.

That’s a political situation and everybody wants to be on the right side of the political issue in terms of their image, and wants to stay politically correct because of monetary values and to protect their sponsors and protect their faith; they don’t want to screw over their career. People will turn on you if the wrong thing comes out your mouth because once it goes out there, you can’t take it back. So, you have to be careful. But if it’s the truth and it’s from the heart, I don’t see any problem with speaking up for what’s right.

Q

Kevin, how close is Ferguson to where Devon grew up and how much do you think about, now, what you helped to save Devon from, when you think about situations that happen like that?

Q

Well, Devon grew up about 20 minutes from Ferguson, but I grew up in Ferguson; went to Ferguson Junior High and Ferguson — McCluer High School, which is in Ferguson. So I actually grew up in Ferguson. Devon grew up, maybe, 15 minutes away from Ferguson.

It’s a sad situation, but I think it’s a situation that’s taking place not only in Ferguson, but it’s all over the country. When you’ve got the powers that be and the city hall and the police department that doesn’t represent the community that it’s serving, you’re going to always have problems. So, until we get to a point to where we can go out and vote and put people in office that understand the people in the community that they’re representing, there’s going to always be problems. I think that’s a nationwide problem, not just a Ferguson problem.

Q

Are you guys going to do anything visually to represent what you’re going to do in the ring in terms of representing St. Louis?

K. Cunningham

Yeah, we’re going to represent St. Louis the way we always represent St. Louis. We’ll have Mike Brown, Sr., he’ll be at the fight with us. That’s pretty much what we’re doing in a nutshell, in reference to that.

Q

Oscar, can you talk about the light that’s going to be shined on the welterweight division on Saturday night given that, Tim Bradley’s fighting Diego Chaves, and Khan’s fighting Alexander, and Keith Thurman is also fighting that night, and what emphasis that puts on those fighters?

O. De La Hoya

The welterweight division will have all eyes on it this Saturday with Amir and then Devon, you mentioned Tim Bradley, Keith Thurman; winners out of those fights will be in line and knocking on that door to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao. This is a very important night and that’s why ticket sales are going extremely well. That’s why both fighters know what’s at stake and I think we’re going to not only get an entertaining night of boxing for all the fans, but we’re also going to have a clearer picture on who’s going to be fighting Mayweather and Pacquiao next.

Q

What are you going to do to be the last man that they’re talking about on Saturday night? Is a win going to be okay or do you really need to look impressive?

D. Alexander

Well, I got to bring out all the stops in this fight. I got to bring my skills and it’s just got to be me. I need to be Devon Alexander “The Great” that guys have been knowing me to be; I’m going back to the days where people knew me as up-and-coming star. That’s the performance I’m looking for and that’s what I’m bringing to this fight.

I definitely need to win and I want to look good doing it. I think all of the winners that night is going to be a lot of people looking at them and saying these are the future of Welterweights. So, I definitely want to look good doing it.

Q

This being your first fight in Las Vegas, are you going to be composed? Is there going to be nerves or did those previous experiences and longing to be there, is that going to be enough preparation for you?

D. Alexander

Yes, of course. I’ve been on the big stage before and I’ve definitely been prepped. Those are the times that were prepping me for the time for MGM Grand. All the times that I’ve been coming to the ring and getting ready and getting those nerves out, that’s prepared me for MGM Grand.

I’m actually kind of excited. I’m kind of in the mood of I’m just smiling and being happy and enjoying the moment. I’m just ready to get in there and do what I do and show people how good I am. I’m definitely going to take full advantage of this situation so no nerves at all, just happiness.

Q

The last question for you, is it almost more appropriate that you’re making your Las Vegas debut as a fighter given what is at stake and given that this could be the jumping off point, the culmination of all your frustrations about not getting certain fights, not stepping up when you should of at the right time? Is it almost more appropriate that this is your debut?

D. Alexander

Definitely. It can’t get any bigger than this. You’re in Vegas at MGM Grand inside the building where all the top fights go. So, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. A lot of action’s coming on December 13h and I plan on being victorious. I plan on just telling people the next day how I did it and how I was able to dismantle Khan.

Q

Oscar, are you working under the assumption that we’re not going to see a Mayweather, Pacquiao fight next and that’s why these guys have a chance to step in with Floyd?

O. De La Hoya

I’m just speaking as a promoter on what these fighters deserve. I don’t know if a Pacquiao and Mayweather fight’s going to happen; I have no idea.

Q

You don’t have any inside information that you’re working off of and you’re not making assumptions either way, you’re just setting that up in case it doesn’t happen? The idea?

O. De La Hoya

Well, the world has been waiting for it for several years. What makes me think now is the time? Why should I believe that it’s going to happen now?

Q

Devon, I do wonder do you believe that Khan is past the problems that he’s had with his chin or do you think that’s tightened up under Virgil Hunter?

D. Alexander

In my very best opinion, if you’ve got a shaky chin, this is boxing and if you’re just not born with a chin or if you’re not born able to take a punch, you’re always going to have troubles. You’re always going to have troubles with a good shot. It’s about being able to be in good position not to get hit with good shots and I think Virgil’s working on him with that and he’s trying to correct that. But, it’s his fight so you’ve got to be able to take a shot because you’re going to get hit.

Q

Kevin, you and I have talked about this before, wondering if Floyd would fight the sort of athlete that Devon is? Do you assume that he would take the fight, especially if Devon won and looked good?

K. Cunningham

I don’t see why he wouldn’t. Floyd’s fought everybody. I haven’t seen Floyd ducking anybody. This is a huge fight, it’s a huge promotion. These are two of the bigger names in the welterweight division and the winner of this fight deserves a shot at Floyd. I think Floyd will step up and give the winner of this fight a shot, for sure, and it’s been a while since Floyd has fought a athletic, quick, African-American fighter anyway, so I think he would step up to the challenge. I think he’d step up and give the winner of this fight a shot, regardless if it’s Devon or Amir Khan.

Q

Oscar, what’s the key to Amir Khan winning and what’s the key to Devon Alexander winning?

O. De La Hoya

I actually have no idea; I’m the guy outside looking in. I didn’t train both guys, I didn’t get in there.

But, from a fighter’s perspective, from a promoter’s perspective, I think Amir Khan, we all know he has speed, he’s developed a lot of power now at 147-pounds, and there’s a lot of great things that Amir Khan does and, likewise, so does Devon Alexander. He’s a great fighter and that’s why they call him “The Great”. He’s a guy who can adjust. He’s a guy who is fast and strong. And the great thing about this fight is that both guys, not that they have something to prove, but they want to prove something in this fight Saturday night. So, it’s going to be entertaining.

D. Alexander

Thanks for all the media, thanks to Oscar, again, who’s done a tremendous job on my career since I’ve been with him, and thank you to MGM Grand, everybody that had something to do with the fight in May. See you guys this week. I’m going to be excited and it’s going to be an awesome fight.

O. De La Hoya

Alright, thank you very much. Today is Amir Khan’s birthday, so we want to wish Amir Khan a very happy birthday. Happy Birthday, Amir Khan.

He’s the former Unified Super Lightweight World Champion and he’s won numerous World Titles. He keeps on proving over and over and over again what type of fighter he is on the world-class stage. He had a tremendous win against a young, hungry, at his peak at the moment, Marcos Maidana where he just proved and showed to the world what a warrior he is.

So let me introduce to you, facing Devon Alexander, with a record of 29-3, with 19 KOs, out of Bolton, England, that is Amir “King” Khan. Amir.

Amir Khan

Hi, Oscar, thanks for the introduction. I just wanted to thank all the media for taking part in this conference call.

Today I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling in great shape, not far off the weight. The weight’s been good, as well. I’m really focused on this fight; not looking past this fight, just looking at Devon Alexander. I’ve been working with Virgil Hunter, my trainer. I’m here to beat him, sticking to that game plan in the fight, and then also been doing all kinds of conditioning work so we’re going to be in full condition and in great condition for this fight. If it goes the full distance, it goes the full distance.

We’re going to be ready, we’re going to be in front of Devon, and we’re going to have the engine to go all the way through with good work and a good volume of punches. We didn’t get time off for 12 weeks, 13 weeks, I’ve been in training camp. I’ve got a dietician, I’ve got a chef cooking for me getting me the right food, which I think has made a marked improvement for how I feel when I go into the gym and train. I’m not cheating myself in anyway, I’m getting in my calories at the right time.

I’m feeling fresh, I have great sparring partners; I’ve flown guys over from all over America to come spar with me. Heavy guys and light guys and guys that move, guys that come forward, guys that come in front of me, from every different angle. We don’t know what we going to be expecting. As I’ve been watching videos of Devon, Devon’s a good fighter. He’s a descent fighter going forward. We’ve worked on everything possible, really. We did not leave anything out.

When we come to fight night on December 13h, we’re going to be ready for whatever he brings to the table and we’re going to have all the answers. So, thanks, again, for joining the conference call and that’s everything from me. Thanks.

Q

This fight was one that almost came off a year ago. Do you regret not taking it then and rolling the dice on trying to get Floyd back then?

A. Khan

I think things happen for a reason and I think it was my first fight at the 147-pound division. It didn’t happened last December because, obviously, we changed a few things and I was hoping for the big fight against Floyd and that fell through. But you need time to build into this weight division even though I got to work on what I needed to work on like my boxing skills and defense and taking my time. When you’re in training camps, you’re focusing on you’re fighter and how to beat an opponent. That’s all, you never really work on your mistakes.

So this time when I didn’t really have an opponent, I was just working on improving myself, keeping in the gym. I had back-to-back training camps, so then when I did have that fight in May against Collazo, it was a great performance so it showed me a lot of things and it proved to me a lot of things that spending time in training camp in between camps, in between fights, does make you a better fighter. I think Devon’s got me at my best time, I’m much better at 147. I feel stronger at this weight and I’m going to be more than ready; I’m going to be more ready than I was last year.

Q

Do you feel, in hindsight, that you were deceived by the Mayweather camp, at all?

A. Khan

That’s life. It’s just one of those things. Everything happens for a reason, and it wasn’t meant to be my time and I’m not going to let it get to me, but I used it in a way as an advantage, to help me and to make me work on the things I needed to and spend a lot of time in the gym. Having to do that so when I did have my first fight at 147, I was very strong and I was on top of my game.

Q

Now that you’ve had more time to work with Virgil, would you say that you’re focusing on getting in less exchanges and looking to be a more defensive boxer, or would you say that’s not true?

A. Khan

I’m still going to be the fighter that I am. It’s just in me; it’s in the blood. We’re just smarter. Whenever we put an attack together, there’s a reason why we’re putting that attack together. There has to be a way out or there has to be a way to stay out of trouble during that assault.

So you can still be exciting, you can still be come forward, you can still throw a lot of punches, but being careful at the same time. That’s what Virgil’s brought to the table; making me a better fighter. He’s making me a fighter that understands everything of what I have to do in the ring and stick to that game plan.

Q

How does Devon differ from Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah, if at all, in terms of his southpaw stance and the skills he brings to the table? Amir, can you address that, because I know you had a little bit of problems with Paul McCloskey before that fight was ended?

A. Khan

No, I think the Paul McCloskey fight, I think we were winning that fight comfortably. I think we got to the fight, got five rounds and the head clash happened and he was cut and he didn’t want to continue, but I was beating him every round before then. It was a clean win for me, really, because the head bop. Against Collazo, here again, he’s another southpaw which I won every round, and I won that fight by a very wide margin. I box really well against southpaw guys. Devon is going to bring something else to the table, but I have the confidence behind me that so far every southpaw I’ve fought I’ve beaten.

Q

What does Devon bring that is new?

A. Khan

Devon brings hand speed to the table. He brings movement, likes to be aggressive, so we’re going to be ready for whatever he brings to the table, and whatever he does we’re going to have answers for. He’s going to come fight, it’s a massive opportunity for him. He’s going to Vegas, and obviously he wants to put on a performance. Being in Vegas, I’ve headlined there a few times, so I know exactly what to expect, so I’m going to be nice and calm. But, it’s a good time for him, and he should make the most of it.

Q

Virgil, can you address what he said about Devon and how the fight maybe with Collazo helped to prepare him for this one, or is that a completely different fighter?

Virgil Hunter

There are two different fights, but as long as you have the proper mindset, you should be able to make the adjustments. Without a doubt, as Amir said, Devon brings a lot of attributes to the fight, and you have to be able to adjust to those attributes at any given time. That was the purpose of our camp, in order to try to negate whatever he brings, but there’s no doubt that he brings a lot to the table.

Q

Virgil, you had said when you first got him that it’s going to take a while for him to break some old habits. Did he, in fact, do all of those things against Collazo, and why do you think it took that fight? What all culminated in that fight?

V. Hunter

I think one of the main things that happened that leading up to the Collazo fight is that we had a lot of time to work together. He was anticipating another fight, so he was coming here and I was going to England, so we spent a considerable amount of time together. During those times we worked on things that we felt would enhance his ability and also make him more aware of what’s going on in the ring.

I would like to think that he has graduated tremendously to another level, but there are other levels to obtain. He has a high bar set. I don’t think he’s reached that bar yet, but you can’t continue to get better until you can continue to set the bar high. So, I’m very happy and pleased where he is at this point in his career and at this point in our relationship.

Q

Of course you’ve been going after that Mayweather fight for a few years. How important is it for you to make an emphatic statement in beating Devon Alexander Saturday night?

A. Khan

You know what? Why do you go to the Mayweather fight? I think every fighter in the welterweight division wants that big fight against Mayweather to see how they’d do against the best fighter. Us young fighters, and us hungry fighters, we want to fight the best and you want to beat the best and you want to see how you do against the best. You never want to leave boxing one day thinking, well, what would have happened if I fought someone like Floyd?

Styles make fights and some styles cause problems to Floyd. Some styles I believe could beat him and some styles probably could be made for him. So, you have to just go with the flow, but going in to this fight, winning this fight could lead to a massive fight bill. To be honest with you, I’m not looking past this fight because I know it’s a dangerous fight for me, and I made that mistake before in the past. I used to look past the fights, and fights I should have gone in and won, so I’m not that doing that anymore. And my team’s taught me not to do that.

Look, I’m so young, I’m 27, well, 28 today, and I’m still learning and as a young fighter I’m hungry and I just have to sometimes pace myself and just stay calm, and be patient. That’s the main thing, being patient, taking my time and whoever they put in front of me, deal with that person and take a step back. So, I’m not looking past this fight against Devon, because it’s going to be a tough fight for me and we have to stay focused and not really make any mistakes and look good against Devon.

Q

What’s it been like working with Virgil, and with that one year that you took off following the Julio Diaz fight, what’s the most you’ve improved on?

A. Khan

Working with Virgil is great, coming to the gym. It’s not like it was in the Wild Card, or anywhere else, like training in a gym that’s full and you’ve got people watching you and stuff. When we go to the gym it’s very isolated, it’s very quiet. It’s a good thing because you can focus on what you need to do, and you only have people in the gym who are your gym mates and staff and the gym manager. Only having five or six people, and that’s the most, that’s when it’s busy.

So, I think that’s what a fighter needs to focus. You don’t need a big gym in front of people, because sometimes that can distract you being the young man you need to be. I’m such a nice person and if someone tries to speak to me I’ll speak back to them, and I’ll stand there while I should be training, so really we have a gym which is closed doors and I focus.

What Virgil brought to the table, he made me a better fighter, he made me an understanding fighter, who understands what boxing’s all about and not to make any mistakes. I’m not going back to my old self again. It’s going to be in the blood where I love to fight and everyone knows that.

So, with Virgil, he’s made me much smarter. For this fight I must have done over 160 rounds of sparring, which helps, because the only way of putting it together and seeing where you are, seeing what you’re up to is when you put it to work. I put it to work against good sparring partners and working against them and I kept my focus, kept my composure, and I know it’s going to definitively help me when it comes down to Saturday, because I’m going to be more focused and I’m hungry; I really want to win this fight because this fight is a big fight for me.

Q

Virgil, what’s it been like working with Amir and what has helped you the most in the two years that you’ve been training together?

V. Hunter

Again, I think any coach would enjoy working with a fighter such as Amir who has such immense talent. At the same time you’re merging together after years of him boxing. So, you want to be careful about how you make changes and you want to be careful how you implement things, so it is an entire process. The entire process is continuous. It hasn’t stopped, it should never stop until the day that he retires.

There’s always room for improvement, room for growth, and there’s also adjustments that you have to make in your style and transitions and recreations as you get a little older. So you have to prepare for 30 when you’re 28. It’s just something that we have committed to, and we just take it one fight at a time. We have a goal of being better in each fight, and that’s how we’ve gone about it and so far it’s worked for us.

Q

Amir, how has this training camp gone so far?

A. Khan

It has been great. I’ve been in training camp for 13 weeks and been working very hard and we’ve mixed it up with lots of conditioning, with lots of technique work, lots of sparring, lots of trying new things out, and working on them and it’s improving my old style; improving things I need to improve on. It’s been so much fun, I’ve had a great camp and been very focused and I’ve been watching the diet and eating clean, which I understand that better now because when you eat clean you train better. It’s like putting good fuel in a car, you know it’s going to drive better.

You put good fuel in your body you’re going to work harder. Little things that I’ve learned and I’m only becoming the full package. I’ve got a lot of room for improvement yet, but I’m slowly learning. I’m improving, that’s the main thing. You can compare the Amir Khan 12 months ago to the Amir Khan now, I’m way ahead, I’m much better and much smarter. Hopefully on Saturday you’ll see a massive difference. Every fight I’m different. Every fight I’m different, so you’ll see a better Amir Khan going into the fight Saturday and a clever boxer.

Q

Do you feel any pressure, Amir, to try and out block Devon to make your punches count and to earn those points on the scorecard?

A. Khan

We’re just going to stick what we’ve got on the game plan and I know exactly what we’re going to do in the fight. It’s going to work for us and whatever that other fighter did, Shawn, or Bradley, I’m going to beat him and get up there. That was their technique, and that was their game plan. Now we have some things and we’re going to have our own game plan and we’re going to stick to that. It’s going to work for us. Whatever they did, it worked and it shows that some things may work against Devon, but we have our own style. My style is different to Bradley’s and different to Shawn Porter’s and I’m always different depending on my opponent, how I fight.

Q

How hard it is to not look towards the future knowing that a Floyd Mayweather fight is probably a lot closer than it was a year ago when you were promised a fight, but ultimately didn’t get it?

A. Khan

Yeah, look, it’s going to be tough not looking past this fight, but obviously I made that mistake before, so that’s what helps me to stay focused and I never want to make that mistake again. I’m a lucky guy because I have a tough task in front of me. I’m not taking this fight lightly. It’s going to be a tough fight and I want to win this fight. And not only win it, but win it with style, with fashion.

I want the boxing fans and the world to demand a fight between me and Floyd. I want people to demand it when they see Amir Khan is such a good fight. They’re going to be like, wow, he should fight Mayweather. I don’t just want it to happen, I want people demanding it.

Q

Virgil, I just have one question for you. Do you ever look at a fight as training more for the fighter and actually trying to fight who’s in his corner as well? Do you get that same kind of vibe training for a fighter that’s being trained by Kevin Cunningham?

V. Hunter

Well, no, because it’s a business and Kevin I knew years ago when we were developing fighters from scratch that these days would come as well as a lot of other colleagues that came out of that 2004 class; Barry [Hunter], Mike [Stafford] and even Naazim [Richardson]. We knew these days were coming. So, you have to block them out.

There’s always a measuring stick in this sport, and Devon Alexander is a tremendous measuring stick. You’re here to excel and both sides, and it’s a time test, but it certainly will never, ever effect the friendship that we’ve built up over the years. But on Saturday night we have to block it out and we have to tend to the business at hand. So, that’s how you pretty much have to look at it.

Q

The question with you has been your chin over the years. What have you done to improve that? Is there anything you can do; is it legwork or whatnot, to keep you from actually being hurt again if you’re hit with a clean shot?

A. Khan

The shots I’ve been hit with in the past, I’ve run in to those shots and I’ve been off balance and so when you get hit with a shot you go down. I make it look worse because I’m not in the right balance and my footwork’s all over the place. I run into to a shot, and when you run into a shot it’s like you’re getting hit twice as hard, so these are things we’ve kind of cleaned up a little bit and been more smart about when we attack and not jumping in with our chin in the air and stuff like that, really.

The shots I’ve been hit with, I think whichever fighter gets hit with those shots they are going to go down. It’s just the way I made those mistakes going in when someone is shot and not having any defense and when you rush in to a shot and you don’t see the punch coming, it hurts you twice as much. I don’t think people probably understand. Boxers will understand.

But we cleaned it up, we’re not the fighter that we were before. We fought Collazo, we’re much smarter. I think in the whole fight he got probably one good shot and I think everything else we were smarter because we didn’t rush in and be silly about fighting him or hurting him. So, I’m slowly, as I’m getting older I’m getting wiser and I’m getting more experience behind me and come fight night, hopefully we’ll know exactly what to do against Devon and we know not to make mistakes and we know he’s quick, so that makes you a little bit more on the edge. It makes you think more and it makes you much more smarter because you’ve got a guy in front of you who’s going to be quick and explosive and he wants to win.

Q

There seems to be a difference in you, you seem a lot more at ease now. And I’m just curious; how much of that has to do with Mr. Hunter?

A. Khan

It has a lot to do with Virgil because early in the day, Virgil is teaching me to stay calm in the gym and not rush and not get anxious. It’s a 12-round fight, you don’t go in there and try to knock the opponent out early on. That’s one thing that worked for me in the earlier fights was I just hit my opponent so early in the fight that they never expected it and that kind of grew with me and stayed with me and stuck with me and I started doing that all the time and I started quick because I think I’ll get my opponents cold, but no, it’s a 12-round fight. I’ll have a good pace, I’ll be smart in the fight and as long as I stick to the way I fight, I don’t think anyone can beat me.

I have the fastest hands in boxing and I have one of the best boxing skill sets in the world, so if I just be smart and stick to those skills, I don’t think I’ll have any problem with anyone. It’s all about when I lose that focus and I don’t stick to that game plan. That’s when I make mistakes. Under Virgil I’m much smarter and I don’t make any mistakes. We all make mistakes as young fighters but I don’t make the same mistakes I used to make.

Q

It’s your first fight since your daughter has been born. How does being a family man change your approach to training?

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