Former professional boxer Scott Lawton insists that Amir Khan has what it takes to become a British boxing legend as he prepares to take on Terence Crawford.
Khan is set to challenge the undefeated Crawford for the WBO Welterweight title at Madison Square Garden on April 20, with many critics claiming it’s a bridge too far for the 32-year-old fighter.
Speaking to our boxing correspondent Saqib Uddin, Lawton believes that although the odds are stacked firmly against Khan, the former light-welterweight champion has enough in his locker to potentially beat Crawford.
“Amir is very, very skilful and very fast and to be fair, he is not a knockout puncher but he is a very hurtful puncher and you never know.
“With boxing, anything can happen can’t it and if he turns up and Crawford gets caught on the chin too early then I think that he has got a great chance of beating him.
“He’s not the toughest. I’ve boxed quite a lot of decent kids, and some are quite big punchers to be fair.
“But I tell you what I thought – he hurt me the most. They weren’t like thuds where you feel like you’re seeing stars, they feel like shot where you go ‘woah!’ – they’re sharp, stingy shots all the time.
“His body punching was very good as well because when I boxed him, he hit me in the first round with a body shot and it was still hurting when the fight had stopped by the end.
“So I was quite happy when I saw him put Maidana down with the same body shot – that made me feel a bit better that did because he is a tough guy anyway!”
Khan has been known to constantly chase big time fights and his CV certainly shows that.
Losses to Canelo Alverez, Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia show that it doesn’t always work out for the Bolton-born boxer, but he certainly has the bottle and ambition required.
Khan could have easily taken a fight with domestic rival Kell Brook and earned a lot more money in the process.
Boxing fans also would have arguably preferred a Khan versus Brook showdown, but it’s Khan’s desire to challenge himself against the very best that is driving himself through the latter stages of his career.
And the Stoke-based Lawton is adamant that the match-up with the undefeated Crawford could define Khan’s legacy.
“He’s a brave man, isn’t he? As much as everyone wants to see him fight Kell Brook, and I want to see him fight Kell Brook – it would be a great fight, with two of the best in the country – obviously it’d be good to see them fight.
“But he is fighting one of the best pound-to-pound fighters in the world so you can’t really knock him really. He’s fighting a terrific fighter in Crawford, he hasn’t looked close to being beat yet.
“I think that Kell is quite well off anyway. I don’t think he is on the breadline is he, so if some offers you the opportunity of fighting a pound-for-pound fighter, and it is his legacy on the line, then he can down as one of the greatest British fighters.
“So no, I think it is a really good fight for him.”
Assessing Khan’s chances in two weeks’ time, Lawton believes the combinations and accuracy of the Brit’s punches could well prove to be a vital weapon when the pair step into the ring.
Crawford might be physically tougher, but Khan’s speed and precision are a damaging attribute that can help him defy the odds.
“He is a very hurtful puncher Amir is. I tell you one thing about him as well though is that everything he throws, he lands. His accuracy is really good, like he doesn’t miss many shots.
“I think he has a very good chance with Crawford, it just depends if Crawford hits him and obviously that is always going to be Amir’s downside.”
Speaking in the London press conference ahead of the fight, Khan echoed his determination to prove that he is capable of challenging some of the best fighters in the world.
“I think for my legacy it’s a brilliant fight. Terence is a great name, he is a big name in boxing and he is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“I got the opportunity, so I’m going to take it. I had another fight there with Kell Brook, which a lot of people were talking about. To me, this was another big fight, which for a world title, I couldn’t turn down and it will put me up in the world pound-for-pound rankings.
“I need fights that I want to win and are going to make me prove myself. This is a fight, against Crawford, where I have to prove myself. Even though I’ve been in the ring a long, long time, I am nowhere near past my best. I’ve still got the best years ahead of me.”