• Welterweight

Amir to Floyd: I'm your best option

June 4, 2013
Amir Khan feels he will be stronger by stepping up in weight © PA Photos

Former light-welterweight champion Amir Khan is moving up to the welterweight division with his next fight shaping up to be an elimination bout for a future opportunity to face pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Khan is set to face Devon Alexander, possibly in Dubai, with the aim being to take a step towards Mayweather. And the Brit feels stepping up in weight will make him stronger and more durable.

"I think I'll be a lot more comfortable at 147," Khan told ESPN.com. "I've been struggling to make the weight. I've been at 140 for a long time (since mid-2009). So I'll be looking to fight at 147.

"I'll be a lot stronger at 147, a lot more confident. Look at guys like Adrien Broner and (Robert) Guerrero. They moved up two weight classes and fought for world titles and you see their confidence. You can do a lot more in training. You can build your strength and not always be worried about the weight. I think I'll have a lot more power."

Khan (28-3, 19 KOs), 26, is not planning to fight again until December. He is taking time off after his wedding and also will observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this summer, after which he will begin training again. The schedule works out well for Alexander, as well, as he broke his left hand against Lee Purdy and will be sidelined for a few months.

While Mayweather, who holds world titles at welterweight and light-middleweight, is scheduled to face light-middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in a world title fight on September 14 at a catchweight of 152 pounds, he still has up to four more fights remaining on the deal he signed earlier this year with Showtime/CBS.

Khan and Alexander have already heard their names mentioned as possible future opponents for Mayweather. Alexander, a former light-welterweight champion, moved up to welterweight in 2012 and Schaefer said it makes sense for Khan to do the same.

"If your goal is to fight Floyd at some point, obviously, the action is at 147 and you might as well go up and introduce yourself in that weight class, where he could actually be stronger at the higher weight," Schaefer said. "Amir feels that will be the case with him. He won't have to worry about making weight so much and he can focus on training. He is excited to move up to 147. He realizes there are tremendous opportunities."

In his last fight, on April 27 in England, Khan fought for the first time over 140 pounds and outpointed former two-time lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in a fight contracted at 143. The weight was a concession to Diaz, who had been fighting at a heavier weight for the past few years, but Khan said he felt comfortable.

If your goal is to fight Floyd at some point, obviously, the action is at 147

"(Golden Boy matchmaker) Robert (Diaz) saw at the weigh-in that he was dry and asked if he had a problem making the weight," Schaefer said. "He was at 149, 148 (in the days leading up to the fight) and to get down, those last few pounds usually come off easy. But this time he had more of a difficult time getting them off. Robert noticed that and felt like he didn't look like he usually does. He's been at 140 since 2007, so obviously it's time for him to move up."

Although Khan is leaving behind 140 pounds, where he lost a controversial decision in a world title fight to Lamont Peterson in December 2011 and then got knocked out in the fourth round in his next fight by Danny Garcia in a title unification fight in July 2012, Schaefer said those rematches - which Khan said he wants - eventually could take place at welterweight.

"Nobody says those rematches can't happen at 147," Schaefer said. "Those are great fights and it won't matter if they are at 140 or 147. People will still want to see them."

Khan believes the move up in weight will also help his ability to take a punch. He has been widely criticised for having a poor chin because of the way Garcia knocked him out and because he was stopped in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott in a stunning upset in a 2008 lightweight fight.

"Part of my punch resistance is due to my weight," Khan said. "Sometimes you need that extra little bit (of weight) to take that punch. If you're not making weight properly, you're not going to take the punches as well. (Trainer) Virgil (Hunter) has seen me spar at 147. I talked to Virgil about moving up and he said, 'Who you looking to fight?' I said, 'Alexander.' He said, 'That's a good fight.'"

But a Mayweather fight remains Khan's ultimate goal, like it is for most every other top welterweight.

"When we are young the dream is to be world champion and now the dream is to fight and beat Floyd Mayweather," Khan said. "Once you beat Floyd Mayweather you become pound-for-pound and that's what everyone aims for. But you have to be in that weight division to be noticed. Everywhere I've been going people ask me when I'm fighting Floyd. Maybe I got knocked out or didn't perform well in some fights, but my style would be exciting to watch against him.

"He has five fights left. Five more opponents. Who brings him money, excitement, recognition and global recognition? I've been in the UK, the European, American and Middle Eastern markets. He'll make a lot of money with Canelo Alvarez, but I can't think of any other boxer with as big of a following or pull that I have that he can make a fight with."

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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