Amir's chin is fine (…but his right hand is an issue): Former trainer Freddie Roach reveals Khan's wrist injury
19:56 GMT, 13 December 2012
The problem with Amir Khan is not his chin, it’s his right hand.
Freddie Roach, the world renowned trainer sacked by Khan after the knock-out which has put his career in jeopardy, has revealed the injury which has to be overcome on the climb back to the boxing summit.
As if regaining world titles is not tough enough, Roach spelled out the extra degree of difficulty confronting Khan as he goes into his rehabilitation fight against local hero Carlos Molina here tomorrow night.
With Khan no longer in attendance and Manny Pacquiao back in the Philippines licking his wounds after his shock KO by Juan Manuel Marquez, the fabled Wild Card gym in Hollywood was relatively quiet as Roach explained why Khan’s move up in weight divisions, to light-welter, is not the reason for his apparently reduced punching power of late.
Wounded: Roach believes Khan's right wrist injury could cause him problems
Roach said: ‘Amir’s hitting as hard as ever in sparring because he knows that if something goes wrong its not as important in the gym as if it happens in a fight in the ring. The problem is that he’s a little wary throwing his right hand now.
‘He suffered some damage to the right wrist a while back and once any fighter gets hand trouble it’s with him for the rest of his life.
'That’s part of boxing and you have to live with it. He doesn’t want it to go again in a fight. It often stops him punching properly with the right as well.’
Must win: Khan knows he can't afford another loss after losing his last two contests to Garcia and Peterson
Roach talks about Khan with genuine concern, even though the young man from Bolton chose to move up the California coast to join rival trainer Virgil Hunter in the San Francisco bay area.
‘You get hired and you get fired in this game,’ says Roach. ‘It doesn’t bother me. Amir said he wanted me to make him my priority but as Manny Pacquiao’s trainer I couldn’t do that.
'What did surprise me was when he came out with that stuff about my Parkinson’s affecting me. If there was a problem with me as his trainer why ask me to put him before Manny
‘Was I disappointed Yeah. But I don’t care. I don’t wanna be angry with Amir. He’s a good boy. Works hard. I wish him well. We had three good years. He was never a problem.’
What Roach does not believe is Khan’s insistence that Hunter has already changed him into a more mature, better defensive, smarter boxer.
Khan was knocked off his world championship perch by Danny Garcia’s thunderbolt left hook earlier this year and Roach, who saw Pacquiao suffer an even more devastating shock from Marquez on Saturday, says: ‘Of course when Amir came back to the corner I told him to use his jab for a round or two and stay out of trouble. Then he could have gone back to beating up Garcia the way he was before he got caught by that strange punch to the neck.
‘But that’s not his instinct. He likes to exchange. He’s a fighter. When he gets hit and hurt his instinct is to hit back. No trainer in the world can change that. Amir will always fight that way and he can do it most of the time because I don’t believe he has an especially suspect chin.'
Khan was brutally punished by Danny Garcia in Las Vegas last time out
He added: ‘He made the same mistake as Manny, instead of continuing to dart in and out he stayed in the pocket too long when he sensed he was close to winning and got caught by a huge shot. That’s also boxing. But I will always be an offensive trainer because that’s the way to win fights.
‘I don’t know how good a trainer Virgil Hunter is. I know he’s got a great fighter in Andre Ward but however good he is Amir will box aggressive whenever he fights.’
Khan accepts he cannot afford a third successive defeat now but Roach says: ‘He should be okay, even though he should still be a little careful.’ He passes on that warning from his own unbeaten prospect Frankie Gomez, who fights on the undercard here.
Roach says: ‘Frankie fought Molina in the amateurs and tells me he punches harder than his record suggests. Still, Molina is small and Amir should win. You never know what psychological damage may have been done by a big knock-out until the fighter gets in the ring. But I don’t see Amir troubled. And I don’t see that in Manny either.’
Far from splitting from Roach, Pacquiao has invited his trainer to spend Christmas with him in the Philippines as they plot the return of the PacMan.
But if they do go ahead with a fifth Marquez fight Roach will insist on Olympic standard drugs testing. Eyebrows were raised at the muscular transformation of Marquez and his elevated punching power, not least because he recently hired as his physical conditioner one Angel Heredia, who confessed to supplying shamed American Olympic athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with steroids. Both he and Marquez deny any wrong-doing.
Fourth time lucky: Marquez finally got the better of Khan's former gym-mate Pacquiao
Roach reveals that he asked for random blood testing prior to Saturday’s shock, adding: ‘The Marquez people refused. I went to the (Nevada) commission but it is their practice not to do that unless both sides agree. If not, they just take a urine test on fight night. But that can be too late.
‘I’m not saying anything specific about Marquez but its not good for boxing if cheats win. There is too much stuff going on now about drugs. We had it with Lamont Peterson being on steroids before he was adjudged to have beaten Amir. It’s not right.’
Pacquiao’s chin is not his problem, either. Roach explains: ‘That punch from Marquez would have knocked out anyone. The issue with Manny will be that even if we don’t get agreement on drugs testing in our training camps, Manny will fight him again, anyway.’
Roach would still prefer that fourth re-match – and, yes, then the big one against Floyd Mayweather – to having Pacquiao start taking on ‘the young guns like Brandon Rios.’
Mayweather After that KO
‘Floyd has got the perfect excuse not to fight Manny now,’ says Roach. ‘But I say why not do the fight. Mayweather is talking about having two fights next year. The first looks like being against Tim Bradley (the beneficiary of a scandalous decision over Pacquiao). Then they are talking about Canelo Alvarez. But that’s too early in Canelo’s career. He needs to continue developing.
‘Canelo is already a bigger star than Floyd in many places so it makes financial sense, also, to let that build towards a mega-fight in 2014. So why not fight Manny after Bradley’
Roach remains convinced of this: ‘I still believe that there are only two men who can beat Mayweather. And they are Pacquiao and Khan.’
Wrap those wrists tight! Roach warns Khan to wrap his hands properly to prevent any further damage
If Khan is to get that opportunity in the future, he must win in the historic Los Angeles Arena here and now.
To help ensure that victory, his immediate past trainer gives him one reminder, for free: ‘I hope he doesn’t forget to wrap his hands properly. I always wrapped them really stiff because he needs that to protect that right wrist.’