US beckons for Khan after spat with UK TV
MANCHESTER, England – Amir Khan's WBA light welterweight title defense against Paul McCloskey on Saturday will likely be a rare chance for British fans to see him fight on home soil.
A broadcasting dispute has overshadowed Khan's first fight in England since 2009, and the boxer believes American television companies will give him more support.
"I'm not going to say it could be my last fight in Britain," Khan said. "But I think it will be a long time until I come back again because, while I want to have the big fights in England, it will be quite difficult to make them. I think they will probably be more likely in America."
The fight Saturday was moved from BSkyB's pay-per-view channel to its regular subscription sports channel, which gives Khan more exposure but less money.
In protest, Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) took his fight away from the network to an obscure channel in Britain, Primetime. HBO will show the fight in the U.S.
"I've always said from day one that there is more money to be made for me in America if I fought there, but I chose to come here and fight live in front of my own fans," Khan said. "Being a British fighter and having more support from American TV just shows that, as a British fighter, I should have had British TV supporting me more."
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who secured the HBO deal, said without controversy, boxing is "not an event."
And the former six-weight champion backed Khan to join him and Manny Pacquiao as a multi-weight world titleholder in the coming years.
"Amir Khan has made a tremendous, tremendous splash in America," De La Hoya said. "His fights last year with Paulie Malignaggi (in New York) and Marcos Maidana (in Las Vegas) have really made him almost a household name in America. He's on the right track to becoming one of those fighters who people will talk about for years to come.
"He has the talent, the drive, the desire and motivation to become great. At his young age I feel he has the focus, which is probably the most important factor in his game. He has the focus to really become great."
The 24-year-old Khan will face an unbeaten but untested McCloskey (22-0, 12 KOs), the reigning European champion from Northern Ireland.
Khan prepared for the fight by sparring regularly with Pacquiao.
"Training with Manny has helped me because he is a southpaw, he gave me some good tips," Khan said of the left-handed Pacquiao. "I was watching him train and spar and thinking about things McCloskey does and he (Pacquiao) is the best southpaw in the world."
Khan's decision to relocate to Los Angeles to train under Freddie Roach following his 2008 loss to Breidis Prescott has already paid dividends.
"There are times sparring Manny when I get the better of him now, and there are times he gets the better of me," Khan said. "I think it just depends on how he feels some days and how I feel some days. When we spar it's just full-on sparring, we learn from each other and I don't think I could get better sparring than Manny Pacquiao."
The 31-year-old McCloskey has been taking time out from his day job managing a supermarket to prepare for the right.
"In my previous fights, I stayed at home and used to work five days a week with my wife, where we run a supermarket," he said. "So I've done a 360 degree turn with my camp to ensure I win this fight and we'll see it on Saturday night."