Amir Khan has vowed to “earn” a bout with boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather by comprehensively beating Luis Collazo in Las Vegas.
Khan appeared set for a showdown with the undefeated Mayweather tonight, but the American instead chose to fight Marcos Maidana in a world title unification bout. But, rather than sulk, the 27-year-old from Bolton agreed to star on the undercard and will make his welterweight debut against Collazo, a rugged southpaw from New York who has won his last four fights, including a shock second-round knockout victory over former 147lb world champion Victor Ortiz.
While Khan is refusing to look past the 33-year-old (35-5, 18Kos), he hopes that a dazzling display will put him in the shop window for a lucrative showdown with Mayweather later this year.
“As long as I put on a great performance I’ll earn that shot [at fighting Mayweather],” he said. “But, to be honest, I’m not looking past Collazo. I need to win this fight and take it from there. I need to put on a good performance and we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a hard fight. It will be tough and exciting, but I think I have all the tools to beat him. He’s coming off a big win so I know it won’t be an easy fight. I’m looking to make a big statement on the Mayweather undercard.”
Many observers were surprised Khan chose to make his bow at welterweight against an experienced campaigner in Collazo, having not fought in nearly a year and struggling badly last time out against Julio Diaz before earning a razor-thin points win. Question marks over his ability to take a punch continue to dog Khan (28-3, 19Kos), but he insists he has been honing his technique with trainer Virgil Hunter and that his time away from the ring may prove to be a blessing in disguise. “I’m excited to put on a great show. I’ve trained my way up to this weight. The hand speed and movement is always going to be here but there are a lot of new things you will see,” he said. “I’m going to put on a great performance. I hope we give the fans what they want.”
For his part, Collazo is determined not to be another stepping stone on Khan’s path to a potential shot at Mayweather, and is keen to upset the odds in a bout that will be contested for the lightly regarded WBC Silver welterweight title.
He said: “Khan, welcome to the welterweight division. Once the bell rings you’re going to see the best Collazo you’ve ever seen.”