• Light-welterweight

Khan: I had to give up party lifestyle

ESPN staff
April 7, 2013
Amir Khan parted from trainer Freddie Roach in September 2012 © Getty Images

Amir Khan has admitted the lure of A-list fame started to affect his boxing career, which prompted a switch in trainer from Freddie Roach to Virgil Hunter.

The light-welterweight returns to fight in England for the first time in two years when he steps in the ring with Julio Diaz at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield on April 27, and has spoken out at his decision to leave Roach's Los Angeles gym in order to distance himself away from a celebrity lifestyle.

"Things were wrong, but I never picked up on them," Khan said to the Daily Mail. "I blame myself because I could have done things differently. At the Wild Card [gym], it was all about showing how brave you are. It's a famous gym and you're always on show.

"Being world champion, you didn't want to look stupid, or look like an ordinary fighter, or that some kid could come along and beat you up in sparring. At the Wild Card, I used to have wars with everyone.

"Stars like Mark Wahlberg, Mickey Rourke, Snoop Dog, Sugar Ray Leonard, even Lennox Lewis, came to see me train. You think you've made it. I used to put on a performance. They want to be your friend, but I now know it takes away from what got you there in the first place: boxing."

Bolton-born Khan parted with Roach in September following back-to-back defeats against Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, believing that he needed to leave the party scene to concentrate on reviving his boxing career.

"At the last camp for the Garcia fight, I went to four parties," Khan said. "It's not me. But then you'd be seen mixing with A-list celebrities, like Jennifer Lopez, and they all say nice things.

"You think, 'Wow, they know me'. You see people on television and you remember they'd spoken to you at a party. But I also know that it's a story of boxers down the years.

"Normally, I'm a very humble man. But when people come over and say there's this party happening and people like yourself should be there, it's a big thing, it does change you.

"If I had stayed in Los Angeles, I could have become a big-time Charlie."

And Khan, who was recently placed at No. 2 in the WBC welterweight rankings despite having never fought at the weight, has welcomed the switch to Hunter and a more tactical approach.

"Virgil looked at me and said, 'Why the hell are you stood there? It only takes one shot to get through a gap. Think. Move away. Get your boxing head on'," Khan said. "No one ever told me off like that before.

"He's disciplined, he's teaching me. He's made me a different fighter defensively. I shouldn't have been getting caught as I was. He said he didn't understand why I always went to war.

"He drilled into me that if I continued to fight like that I'd always be one punch away from getting hurt. Sometimes, being too ballsy is a bad thing. He's shown me it's better beating my opponent up instead of wanting to knock him out."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.