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Amir takes the States by storm as British boxing stands tall

Adam Smith Posted 11th December 2010 view comments

It's been a tough week in some ways but British boxing is far from on its knees. And standing taller than most out here in Las Vegas is Amir Khan.

Yes, there have been some dark times for Dereck Chisora out in Germany, but over here on The Strip, the boy from Bolton has been positively sparkling.

I have been with Amir all week and I have to say, it's been a pleasure to be around him. The way he's handled himself has been nothing less than impressive. Don't forget he only turned 24 on Wednesday but the maturity he has shown has been a real eye-opener; he is no longer the little kid from Bolton, he is a man ready to take his opportunity.

Khan: is proving there's plenty more fight left in British boxing

Khan: is proving there's plenty more fight left in British boxing

Chisora's loss - and who knows if the fight with Wladimir Klitschko can be made next year or if it has opened the way for David Haye - could well be Khan's gain. The limelight is now well and truly his, but he seems really relaxed, there are no nerves or fear; just a young man deadly serious about his business.

There is a lot on his young shoulders as well. It might not be the Mancunian invasion that Las Vegas went through when Ricky Hatton was at his peak, but there are plenty of British fight fans out here and an encouraging number of our press boys - not to mention the Hayemaker - are all here to support him.

I believe Amir Khan has what it takes to be a superstar; they see the young, charming, good-looking kid with the speed and skills that might even get the chance to give the one and only Floyd Mayweather a run for his beloved money.

Adam Smith
Quotes of the week

But those young shoulders are built of stern stuff, thanks largely to the work of conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who has pushed him all the way. As ever Freddie Roach has put the gameplan in place and Khan is ready for the toughest assignment of his career in the shape of Marcos Maidana.

The Argentinean though, says this is not his hardest fight. But the challenger is a real throwback; he is the son of a farmer, one of eight children and he has come to win. He knows he turned in a poor performance last time out against DeMarcus Corley when he was overweight and had a poor training camp, but his wonderful old trainer Miguel Diaz assures us there is no way that will happen.

They have billed this Thunder and Lightning and it will be exciting. I expect Khan's razor-sharp speed, movement and skills to strike and having taken him to the Mandalay Bay the other day and seen how big the ring is, the angles and unpredictability will be too much for Maidana. Mind you, the challenger is convinced he only needs one big right, or a left hook to land.

Even though I am out here watching a Brit top the bill in Vegas, part of me wants to be back at home or in Liverpool at least, to see what promises to be a fantastic night put together to mark Frank Warren's 30th anniversary. There is no German leg to it, but believe me, the best of Britain will more than make up for any disappointment.

Proud

From what we're hearing out here it is all coming to the boil nicely as well! Paul Smith against James DeGale was always going to be the fight of the night but after the weigh-in, it really is ready to explode. It is a big fight for British boxing and a good fight as well; in fact I would love to have been there for it.

I know both fighters well and Smigga is a proud man, a very determined fighter and he will be in the shape of his life. If I'm honest Paul has maybe plateaued a little of late and coasted through the odd fight but DeGale will bring the best out of him, that much I know. Chunky, as he is known, has the speed and southpaw skills to win the day and whatever the outcome you have to admire him for going right into the lion's den of Liverpool.

It will be a big night for the city I love - like Smith I am a Red - and a chance for it to show how strong its boxing is right now. They love their sport and there is a real revival up there right now. We remember the days of John Conteh, then Shea Neary and Paul Hodkinson but now there is a new crop to behold. Behind Smith we have the likes of Tony Bellew and Joe Selkirk, who I am a big fan of.

But Saturday is a real chance for our world-title hopefuls to show that they are ready to follow the trail currently being blazed by Khan, Haye, Carl Froch and Ricky Burns. Kell Brook, Nathan Cleverly and Matthew Macklin have a real chance to show off their stuff and with so many talents in action, excitement is guaranteed - as well as a few knockouts I'm sure. There might be a few upsets along the way.

Superstar

Boxing wouldn't be boxing without those hitches and all I can say after this week is there is never a dull moment! But it is a sport that reacts well to adversity, so I am expecting it to bounce back in style this weekend.

Yes, Audley Harrison's performance was a huge let-down and yes Chisora's disappointment is still fresh, but Britain has four world champions, Burns' recent triumph proving just what hard work and dedication can achieve.

Amir Khan is spearheading our charge and in doing so, taking America by storm. Don't forget that Maidana is a Golden Boy fighter as well, but it is our champion that has been the centre of attention all week; the focus is firmly on Amir.

They, like I, believe he has what it takes to be a superstar; they see the young, charming, good-looking kid with the speed and skills that might even get the chance to give the one and only Floyd Mayweather a run for his beloved money.

If Khan does cop a right and come a cropper on Saturday that will all come crashing down, but a win will really make a statement. And it will mean Britain ends the year with four world champions in place and the likes of Cleverly, Macklin and Brook ready to follow their lead; throw in James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and George Groves and our sport is in fine fettle for 2011.

It's been a tough week behind the scenes but I have a feeling that Amir Khan and the Brit Pack back home will prove to us all that boxing in Britain right now, is indeed in great shape.

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