Champion Khan now fit for purpose and ready to face Garcia after living the dry life
22:18 GMT, 12 July 2012
Water is a more precious commodity in
the desert than the world title which has rightly been restored to Amir
Khan and which he will carry proudly into the ring before his big fight
on Saturday night.
Yet even here in Nevada, as temperatures hit a record-breaking 115 degrees Fahrenheit, Khan wants less of it.
Sound advice: Khan says he is fitter than ever after ditching Alex Arizas unusual methods and appointing Tavares (left)
As he primes himself for the draining attempt to unify the WBA title he has reclaimed from drug cheat Lamont Peterson with the WBC belt worn by unbeaten Danny Garcia, Khan is moderating his liquid intake and reducing his time in the pool to a minimum. And never mind that he has to get up to run at 4am to avoid dehydrating in the searing heat of daytime in Las Vegas.
A regime which entailed excessive swimming and the intake of gallons of water has been terminated by Khan's dismissal of the physical conditioner who imposed those unconventional practices.
Khan inherited Alex Ariza, who is Manny Pacquiao's fitness coach and nutritionist, when he joined the PacMan at master trainer Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym in Hollywood. Khan sacked Ariza when he took unauthorised time out from his training camp to pick up extra money moonlighting with Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr.
For the Briton, this has become a blessing in disguise.
Ariza's replacement Ruben Tavares, who worked previously with David Haye, has eradicated those extreme methods and our young man from Bolton could not be more delighted.
Rival: Danny Garcia
Not only that but he looks to be exactly what he tells us he feels: 'Fitter, healthier, fresher, sharper.'
He adds: 'All the swimming was too much. We still go into the pool for brief spells of resistance work but the continual lapping was wearing.'
Roach could not be more approving of the change: 'There is no correlation between swimming and boxing. In fact, it's detrimental.'
But it was the gulping down of water until his system was awash which most concerned Khan and those around him.
'I was drinking hundreds of bottles of water,' says Khan. 'I hated it. I felt sick from it and I didn't want to eat. I was bloated. Then in the nights before the weigh-in I got hardly any sleep because I had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom.
'I did it because I always do what our experts tell me but I was tired. I was also around 152lb, so I had to take off almost a stone in the last day before going to the scales.
Then I'd blow up again in the 24 hours up to the fight. It didn't work for me. Now I'm only drinking two litres of water a day. If you see the pictures taken then my body looked full. I had nothing like the muscular definition I have now.'
Boost: Khan has been reinstated as the WBA champion
Tavares, formerly a track-and-field athlete himself, was alarmed: 'The theory was to get Amir into the ring on the night as big and heavy as possible but he was taking on water to the point where his body was being flooded.'
The swimming pool was exhausting but this was the Drowning Pool.
The act of over-hydrating has been blamed for fatalities, particular among young people obsessed with dieting. In effect they have drowned.The water-bloating may also have been dulling the edge of Khan's most potent weapon – his speed – in recent fights.
That asset established him as the betting favourite on the Vegas Strip even before his confidence and motivation were boosted by his reinstatement as a world champion and the bonus of having The Ring magazine belt put on the line here.
That version of the title was declared vacant as the bible of boxing invoked a new policy removing from their rankings any fighter who tests positive for drugs.
I had the pleasure of telling Khan of these developments after Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy promotions, received formal confirmation of the WBA's decision. He was thrilled.
Drugs cheat: Lamont Peterson (left)
The IBF are now alone in resisting stripping Peterson until he has presented his medical excuse for having a pellet full of steroids implanted in his hip before he was given a controversial hometown decision over Khan.
The other authorities involved are growing tired of waiting. Peterson has already missed two dates for a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing.
Khan says: 'Things happen for a reason. If Peterson hadn't been caught I would have been fighting him as the challenger in a re-match for my belts. Now I am honoured to go back into the ring as the WBA champion.
'I have the chance I've always wanted to win a WBC belt – like all the top fighters such as Floyd Mayweather have done – plus I've also wanted to box for The Ring title. 'This is now my opportunity to wrap up this division and prove I'm the No 1 man at 140lb, before moving up to welterweight.'
First things first. Having reacted with excitement to becoming world champion again, Khan said: 'Now I must focus on Garcia.'
Sensible, for him to plant those quick feet firmly back on the ground before – as it is so pertinent to say at this moment – he tests the water of a higher division inhabited by Mayweather and Pacquiao, the two best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.