Khan ready to prove he is in the elite

25/04/2013 18:49

Amir Khan is bidding to re-establish himself after damaging back-to-back world title defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia called into question his future at the top level.

Khan (27-3) takes on Mexican Julio Diaz (40-7-1), in his first bout in England for two years, this weekend at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena live on BoxNation.

He stopped Carlos Molina on his last outing in December and believes another victory  will put him back in the world title frame.

The 26-year-old speaking at his pre-fight press conference, said: "It's a new Amir Khan coming back to England after two years. The last time they saw me was against Paul McCloskey and I am a totally different fighter now. When I used to get in trouble, when under pressure, I used to go back to my old self but people will see a new guy and I hope they like the new style I bring to the table.

It is going to be an amazing show, we are all looking forward to it. I will cause fireworks and it will be a brilliant fight. I won't let the fans down. Hopefully we will be back to winning ways and it will take us to bigger fights."

Khan's career hit a crossroads after he was controversially relieved of his WBA and IBF light welterweight belts by Peterson then failed to take the WBC equivalent off Garcia.

Golden Boy promotions are doing all they can to make sure Khan will have a opportuinity to unify the 140lb division. Despite the world title defeats they have stuck by their man and are determined to give him the easiest possible route to success.

Should Khan dispatch Diaz as we all believe he will, then he can sit back, relax and watch the rest of the division battle it out. Garcia meets Zab Judah this weekend while Peterson is due to fight the dangerous Lucas Matthyse on May 18 with the plan being the winner of these two contests to face each other later this year.

While these intriguing fights take place, Khan is safe in the knowledge that he has been guaranteed a shot at the eventual winner where he will have the chance to win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles.

Khan knows he is in a fortunate position but first he must make sure he impresses on his homecoming. While Diaz is not a dangerous puncher, and cannot boast a particularly impressive record. It would be a nightmare if he took the Brit into the latter rounds and even close to him on the scorecards.

The non-title bout has been set at a 143-pound catch weight between light welter and welterweight - with Khan stepping up and California-based veteran Diaz coming down.

Diaz, 33, is a former world lightweight champion but has been reinventing himself at welterweight. He knocked out Henry Aurad and Hector Sanchez last year and drew his last fight against Shawn Porter.

Diaz said: "Everybody was counting me out, saying I was done, with all those critics saying I don't have it any more - I am here. For my last fight I was on the undercard to Amir, at the press conference on the bottom table. I said I didn't belong there, now I am here, at the top, where I belong. I am back, I am a refreshed fighter and people are going to see that."

While Khan is looking to get his career back on track, it is last chance saloon for another former amateur star on the same bill, as Audley Harrison (31-6)  looks to derail the career of exciting American heavyweight Deontay Wilder (27-0).

Harrison knows this is the last chance to prove that he belongs among the world's elite while Wilder is looking to prove he is the real deal and can become the next great American heavyweight.

"I have mad respect for Audley Harrison. He is like a big brother to me but this is business. I'm trying to get to the top. I've been given the nickname 'knockout King' and I want to keep it. I'm lean and mean, I'm slick and on Saturday you'll see," stated a confident Wilder.

While Harrison responded, saying: "I know Wilder is dangerous and I respect him has a rising star but I'm back. It's taken me a long time to get where I am today. I fell out of love with boxing but I am most definitely back."

Two interesting debutants adorn the undercard. Lowestoft's Anthony Ogogo , a middleweight bronze medalist at last year's London Olympics, gets Telford's Kieron Gray (5-13-1) over six rounds while Haroon Khan, younger brother of Amir, meets Bulgarian Stefan Slatchev (3-7) in a super flyweight four rounder.