By Kieren Mulvaney
Amir Khan realized something this week: Fight week in Las Vegas can be fun.
That's something that's normally lost on the fighters themselves, but this time, instead of trying to make weight and prepare to face the likes of Marcos Maidana or Zab Judah, Khan is in town to commentate on tonight's fight for British television, and provide support as needed for his stable mate Manny Pacquiao.
“I think it's brilliant to just come to Las Vegas and enjoy yourself,” said Khan, echoing the sentiments of millions of vacationers before him. And while he isn't exactly the kind to walk along the Strip with a yard of margarita around his neck, he has been able to soak up the atmosphere in a more relaxed way than is normally the case.
“Manny Pacquiao's the one who's fighting, so all the pressure's off me, I can just train [for his December 10 HBO World Championship Boxing bout with Lamont Peterson], be myself, enjoy it all, walking around like a fan, enjoying the press conferences and the weigh-in,” he explained. “Normally I'm stuck in my room and can't really do anything, this time I can get out a little bit and chill out. I can do what I want, eat what I want, go to sleep when I want.”
Like Pacquiao, Khan is trained by Freddie Roach and has been a part of a number of the Filipino's training camps; given the destruction Pacquiao has visited on the likes of Antonio Margarito in recent bouts, it's almost discomfiting to hear Khan offer that the way he trained for those bouts was nothing compared to the intensity he has shown for tonight's clash with Juan Manuel Marquez.
“I've seen a big difference with how he's trained for this fight and how he's trained for other fights in the past,” he said. “Manny's very focused for this fight. I think he wants to do a job on Marquez. He wants to put the record straight by going in there, knocking Marquez out this time and just settling the score really.”
The previous two fights between Pacquiao and Marquez were nip-and-tuck, close-fought affairs that ended in razor-thin decisions. But that was then and this is now, and Khan is convinced that Marquez will be facing a much improved, and radically different, opponent than the one he fought in 2004 and 2008.
“This version of Manny is different: Muscular, strong, bigger, harder-hitting, and still as quick,” he said. “But Marquez, as he has put size on, he's gotten slower. And in his last few fights he's been dropped a lot - by [Floyd] Mayweather, by [Michael] Katsidis - so he falls to the floor. And Manny has a lot more power than Mayweather and Katsidis, so I'm sure he's going to hurt him. I really think it'll be a stoppage in mid-rounds.”