I’m a world beater now, insists Khan

AMIR KHAN believes his shocking defeat by Breidis Prescott last September actually boosted his world title chances by turning him “from a boy into a man”.

Khan, 22, bids to win his first world title when he steps up to light-welterweight to face Ukrainian WBA champion Andreas Kotelnik at the MEN Arena tonight. Less than a year ago a world title seemed a long way away after Colombian Prescott produced a stunning upset by knocking Khan out in less than a minute.

Khan has since regrouped, switched trainers and relocated to the US to rebuild his career, culminating in tonight’s world title shot. But the Bolton youngster, who beat Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera earlier this year, insists he never doubted he would still achieve his dreams despite the Prescott loss.

Asked if he thought last September he would be fighting for a world title less than a year later, Khan told Press Association Sport: “I did, yes. I knew that within a year I’d still become a world champion.

“I know people didn’t think I’d become a world champion – even people probably in my own camp, my own team, didn’t think I’d become a world champion this quickly. I made one mistake but I’ve proved everyone wrong by beating Barrera and now fighting for a world title. And hopefully when I wake up on Sunday morning I’ll be a world champion.”

Khan even believes the defeat by Prescott accelerated his progression to world title level.

“The Prescott fight made me change from a boy to a man, it took me out of my comfort zone because when you lose a fight you look at the mistakes and everything. That is what happened, I’ve changed from a boy to a man. I’ve changed everything, I’ve moved to train in LA, I’m totally focused now. I’m a different fighter, a different person and the way I fight now is totally different.”

Khan will be supported on a packed Manchester bill by former amateur stars James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders in their third professional outings. Olympic middleweight champion DeGale takes on Northern Irishman Ciaran Healy, 2007 world amateur lightweight champion Gavin meets York’s Graham Fearn and Beijing Olympian Saunders faces Matt Scriven.

DeGale is excited by the card – but admits he is lobbying promoter Frank Warren for a fight in London.

“The card is brilliant – I call it the summer slam,” DeGale said. “There’s some good fights, the future of British boxing – me, Frankie and Billy Joe – there’s Amir Khan boxing for a world title, there’s Enzo Maccarinelli, some big fights. I haven’t had my homecoming yet, I haven’t boxed in London. But I spoke to Frank (Warren) the other day and my time will come.”

Light-welterweight Gavin, who famously missed out on a place at the Olympics due to struggles making the lightweight limit, is happy with his progress after nearly six months in the professional ranks.

“It’s gone really well,” the Birmingham boxer told Press Association Sport. “I said I wanted six to seven fights a year and I’ve got another four fights to come this year. I’m enjoying life as a professional, it’s different (to the amateurs). I’m not being put on the scales every two minutes and moaned at if I put a pound on and stuff like that.”

Also on the undercard Kell Brook defends his British welterweight title against Michael Lomax, Anthony Small and Matthew Hall contest the British and Commonwealth light-middleweight belts and Enzo Maccarinelli looks to bounce back from defeat by Ola Afolabi when he takes on Russia’s Denis Lebedev.

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