Amir Khan aims to rewrite narrative vs. Terence Crawford

Amir Khan was ticketed for greatness after capturing a silver medal in boxing for Britain at the 2004 Olympics. And while his professional career has included a world title at 140 pounds, Khan has largely underperformed at the level of the sport’s best.

He was knocked out cold by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez when the two met for the middleweight championship in May 2016 and lost back-to-back title fights to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in 2011-2012.

But the perception of Khan’s career would improve handsomely if he’s able to upset Terence Crawford on April 20 at Madison Square Garden for Crawford’s WBO welterweight championship. The inaugural pay-per-view broadcast of Top Rank on ESPN feels like a mismatch with Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) and his questionable chin challenging the unbeaten and fast-rising Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), who has stopped eight of his past nine opponents.

But Khan, 32, remains confident of an upset, figuring his experience and boxing skills will help him prevail.

“I have a lot against me, but this is where I like to be,” Khan said recently. “This is where I like to be because I’m the underdog. I am at my best when people are looking over me. I feel strong physically and mentally.I am prepared for this fight.”

Khan was once the face of British boxing before the emergence of heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and other stars like Tyson Fury, Kell Brook, James DeGale and Chris Eubanks Jr. He turned down a potentially lucrative deal to face Brook in the United Kingdom in order to fight Crawford, a move that seems questionable given Crawford’s dominance over recent opponents. Khan said he likes the matchup of styles.

“Terence is a skillful fighter, and I always do well against skillful fighters,” Khan said. “This is going to be like a game of chess at times. I’ve been in the division longer, so I’ve got that advantage on my side. I’m the bigger guy, so that is on my side.This is a fight where I have to bring my ‘A’ game.”

Khan (right) with Terence Crawford during the January press conference announcing their April 20 bout.Getty Images

The welterweight division is bubbling with talent. Errol Spence Jr. recently defended his IBF welterweight title by beating Mikey Garcia. Shawn Porter is the WBC champion, while Keith Thurman is the WBA 147-pound champ. Also in the mix for a big-money fight is Manny Pacquiao and Danny Garcia. A unification bout is expected by the end of the year, and Khan is hopeful of being part of the equation.

He is being trained again by Virgil Hunter. Khan is 5-1 when Hunter works his corner, the lone loss coming in their last pairing, in 2016, when Khan moved up to 155 pounds and was stopped by Alvarez.

“I really like getting back with Virgil,” Khan said. “I really believe he knows me. I’ve had great performances with Virgil, great wins. I couldn’t wait to join with him again. We brought in different guys in sparring. Some of the guys are southpaw and some are orthodox. I am not leaving anything behind.”

Khan said part of the reason he chose to fight Crawford instead of Brook was the opportunity to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden. His wife, Faryal Makhdoom, is originally from Staten Island and the couple was married at the Waldorf Astoria in May 2013.

“New York is where my wife is from,” said Khan, who is hugely popularly in Pakistan. “I have a big fan base there. I enjoy walking the streets of New York and getting gloved by the boxing fans. I’ll love the day when I am walking the streets with my kids and I’ll be walking past [the Garden] and say, ‘Look, I fought there.’ It means a lot to me.”

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