MANCHESTER // Trainer Freddie Roach has made Amir Khan put his social life on hold in order to focus on fulfilling his world title dream. The 2004 Olympic silver medallist takes on Marco Antonio Barrera at the MEN Arena in Manchester tonight hoping to put his career back on track following last September's shocking knockout defeat by Colombian Breidis Prescott.
Khan's defeat by Prescott came during a brief and ill-fated partnership with trainer Jorge Rubio and he immediately parted company with the Cuban and joined up with renowned American Roach. And Roach believes an extended training camp in Los Angeles will hugely benefit the Bolton fighter in the long term . "My new assistant, Michael Moorer, has really worked on the mental side of things with Amir," the trainer said.
"He has made him put the cell phone away and kept him away from his friends. "When Amir comes home everybody wants to be with him. But I just told him to explain to his friends, 'this is my whole life here', so they understand, they are staying away, everyone is helping out. "There's no playtime. It's a gruelling schedule of three workouts a day, conditioning, strength and boxing." Khan, 22, has added incentive to beat the former three-weight world champion Barrera with promoter Frank Warren hoping to confirm the fight as a WBO lightweight title final eliminator.
Warren said: "I'm still pressing ahead with that and it should be, I hope they will recognise it as that because it deserves to be. "Barrera is the No 1 with them anyway and Amir is the next available contender, so it should be. We'll keep our fingers crossed. "We'll see what happens and how Amir looks in the fight. "If he does what I hope he can do and what I believe he can do, then this is going to be a big, big occasion and put him in a position which hopefully opens a lot of doors for us to decide what the next move is."
As the WBO No 1 contender, Barrera, 35, is in line to challenge new champion Juan Manuel Marquez - but insists he is not using this fight with Khan as a mere tune-up for a future clash with Marquez. "Any fight is a challenge," he said. "I got this opportunity to come here and win. I am a warrior. "Amir is a young, fast fighter with power but I believe my experience will make the difference in the fight."
On a strong bill in Manchester Nicky Cook defends his WBO super-featherweight title against the Puerto Rican fighter Roman Martinez, while the Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli aims to become the WBO interim cruiserweight champion against Ola Afolabi. * PA Sport