Amir Khan has been warned he must commit to a full-time future in the United States if he is to stand any chance of reclaiming the world title belts he has been without since losing to Danny Garcia last year.
Khan’s first fight in Britain for two years in Sheffield on Saturday night almost lurched to disaster as he was floored in round four and hurt numerous times before wobbling to a 12-round win over Mexican Julio Diaz at the Motorpoint Arena.
It was a wholly unconvincing performance from Khan, who looked out on his feet at times in the tenth and 11th rounds before rallying for a deserved 115-113, 115-112, 114-113 unanimous verdict. Khan is now targeting a rematch with Garcia, who kept his own side of the bargain by scoring a thrilling unanimous decision win of his own over veteran and former Khan foe Zab Judah in Brooklyn later on Saturday.
But Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter has told the 26-year-old he must spend more time at his training base in San Francisco if he is serious about once again holding his own with his sport’s elite fighters. Hunter said: “I’m convinced now that, in his own mind, Amir knows he’s got to work more and come to the gym more. Amir has to acknowledge that he is at a disadvantage because of the distance between us.”
However Khan, who fought at a career-heaviest 143lbs as he mulls a potential future move up to the welterweight division, appeared less inclined to commit fully to a full-time training regime away from home. He said: “I will probably fly to San Francisco in between fights and do mini-camps. It’s going to be difficult. My family’s in England but I don’t mind travelling back and forth.”
On the undercard, meanwhile, Audley Harrison was stopped after just 70 seconds of his latest comeback bout against unbeaten American Deontay Wilder, and hinted at retirement. “This could be the end for me,” he admitted.