Virgil Hunter wants Amir Khan to train in between camps
By Tim Royner: Trainer Virgil Hunter says he wants former light welterweight champion Amir Khan to train in between training camps so that he can work on his weaknesses to try and improve his game. Hunter wants to see if the 32-year-old Khan’s boxing skills are gone or if he’s just letting them wither away by ONLY training in the 10 weeks before his fights.
Khan (33-5, 20 KOs) is coming off of sixth round injury stoppage loss to WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford on April 20 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Hunter stopped the fight in the sixth round after Khan was hit low. It’s believed by a lot of boxing fans that Hunter had the fight stopped to save Khan from being knocked out by the unbeaten Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs). Crawford was battering Khan around the ring, and it was obvious that he wasn’t going to last too much longer with the way things were going.
Khan has been a part-time fighter
The major problems that Khan has had during his career is he takes huge time off before fights, sometimes years, and he’s not training with Hunter in between fights. Khan likes to travel a lot, and enjoy his life and the huge money he’s made in the sport. Khan isn’t the life of a boxer when he’s not in training camp for fights. Treating boxing like a part time job has clearly hurt Khan’s career. He hasn’t lived the spartan lifestyle that many of the successful fighters have, who put off living the life of a leisure until after their career. Khan has lived the soft life when not training for fights, and it’s hurt his career. Khan has been treating his training the same way his entire 14-year pro Khan. It might be too late for Khan to suddenly start training year round 365 days a year to improve on his weaknesses and keep from letting his skills deteriorate. You can argue that Hunter wants to see Khan come into the gym in Hayward, California to work with him the way Andre Ward would work. Ward was a hard worker, and always wanting to improve his game. Khan seems to be training only when he’s got a fight. Other than that, he’s traveling and enjoying his life.
“I would like to see him commit to many training camps in between fights and to work on his weaknesses before he makes that final decision to really see if his skills are gone, or if he is just letting them lay in a pile and deteriorate slowly,” Hunter said to BBC.com. “He never has practice in between fights. He trains hard for 10 weeks but it’s not enough.”
Is Khan letting his skills deteriorate or is he shot?
Hunter wouldn’t commit to saying whether he believes Khan is an over-the-hill fighter, because he wants to see if he can improve on his weaknesses by training year round rather than just once or twice a year for 10 week training camps. It might be asking too much of Khan for him to reverse how he’s been treating the sport for the last 14 years at this point. Even if Khan suddenly became a gym rat at this point in his life, it might not be enough for him to improve his game. His body would obviously be in shock if he started training every day instead of just 10 weeks per year.
Khan has become a once a year fighter like Gary Russell Jr. He’s not an active fighter. Khan didn’t fight at all from 2016 to 2018. That was two entire years out of the ring for Khan. When he did come back, he fought a couple of soft jobs in Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas. Khan almost lost to Vargas, which isn’t surprising given the amount of time that he’d had out of the ring. In any job, no matter what it is, if you only work at it for 10 to 20 weeks per year, you’re not going to do as well as the people that are working at their craft for 56 per weeks per year.
You’re not going to be as good as them. Khan might not be able to put off the pleasure of the leisure life for the remainder of what’s left of his boxing career. The dedicated athletes stay in the zone, working hard each day, putting off living the easy life until after they retire. Those are the ones that do well, and have great careers in sports. The athletes don’t do as well are the ones that slack off in between seasons, sit around eating, traveling and not working out hard. They think they’ve got it made because they made it to the big time, but they fail to work hard to stay at the top. The result is their careers fizzle out quickly. You can argue that happened with Khan many years ago. It’s only become of his amazing physical talent, and the early training that he had before he turned pro that he’s been able to remain one of the fringe contenders all these years. Khan has been a fringe contender in the welterweight division since 2012. He stopped being a world champion that long ago, and he hasn’t worked hard to get back to the top.
Hunter has stuck with Khan
Hunter has shown a lot of patience in sticking with Khan and not letting him go despite him appearing to be just going through the motions. Hunter might have done well focus on other fighters, ones that are willing to put in the dedication to the sport rather than treating it like a part-time job. With Khan, we don’t know if he loves the sport anymore. The perception some boxing fans have of Khan is he’s just looking to cash out with payday fights against Khan guys that can’t beat like Crawford, Kell Brook, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. Given the years of being away from facing serious competition and fighting on a frequent basis, it looked odd that Khan was challenging WBO welterweight champion Crawford for his title last April. It was like watching a retired fighter make a come back against a world champion. Khan didn’t deserve a title shot against Crawford. He had done nothing to earn that title shot, and the results of the encounter were obvious the moment the fight was signed. Retired fighters rarely do well when they come back to face world champions.