Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Amir Khan would 'love to fight in Dubai', but for now focus is on Terence Crawford

The 32-year-old Briton takes on undefeated WBO welterweight champion in New York on April 20

Amir Khan takes on the undefeated American Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in April. Reuters
Amir Khan takes on the undefeated American Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in April. Reuters

British boxer Amir Khan says he would love to fight in Dubai one day but for now his main focus is on dethroning welterweight king Terence Crawford.

The former two-weight world champion faces unbeaten American Crawford (34-0) in New York on April 20 with his sights set on reclaiming a seat at the top table in world boxing.

Khan (37-33-4) has won his last two fights since being stopped so brutally by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in May 2016 and in Crawford faces one of boxing's elite fighters who has won titles in three weight divisions.

A regular visitor to Dubai, Khan has often spoken in the past of his desire to fight here. Alongside the Philippines' Manny Pacquiao, Khan, who is of Pakistani descent, are the boxers most touted to take part in an elite level match on these shores owing to the huge expat populations of both those countries. Boxing is the one jewel missing from the UAE's crown when it comes to hosting major sporting events.

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“There’s been quite a lot of talk about it happening, and I’d love to have a fight in Dubai, where I’ve got a lot of fans and has become my second home,” Khan said on a recent trip to the UAE as a brand ambassador for Berkeley Assets.

“Quite a lot of things have to come together to make it happen, but one thing I’ve learnt in my career is that boxing can produce surprises, so don’t rule it out."

UAE boxing fans could be forgiven for thinking they have heard it all before. The likes of Khan, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr have all previously mentioned Dubai as a destination for future fights with nothing ever coming to fruition.

Indeed in March 2017, Khan and Pacquiao took to Twitter to confirm a showdown between the two former training partners with one Pacquiao adviser telling The National that the match would take place in the Emirates on May 20.

Days later, Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter at the time, said the deal was "dead", citing the supposed US$38 million (Dh139.5m) required to put on the event never materialised from UAE investors.

For now, though, Khan's attentions are focused on a return to Madison Square Garden for the first time in almost nine years to face a man many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Crawford's ability to fight both orthodox and southpaw has left many a challenger bewildered and beaten.

Following his loss to Alvarez, Khan took a 23-month hiatus from boxing. He returned to the ring last April with a first-round knockout of Phil Lo Greco and then defeated Samuel Vargas by unanimous decision in September.

Khan, 32, who has registered 20 knockout in 33 victories, said the chance to step up in weight and take on the WBO welterweight champion was too good an opportunity to turn down.

"My focus is the Terence Crawford fight. I couldn’t say no to it," Khan said. "I needed a fight to motivate me to train hard, and this is a massive fight. If I win, people will remember me as a great champion.”

Updated: February 12, 2019 05:27 PM

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