Amir Khan to spend more time with US trainer after Julio Diaz scare
Agence France-Presse in Sheffield, England
Amir Khan admits that he will have to spend more time with his trainer Virgil Hunter in San Francisco after being floored on his way to a 12-round points victory over Julio Diaz.
The Briton quickly bounced up off the canvas in the fourth round, but after a count there were more worrying moments before he looked on the verge of being stopped in the 11th round.
However, the former light-welterweight world champion prevailed and won a unanimous but narrow points decision by scores of 114-113, 115-113 and 115-112 in an enthralling encounter at the Sheffield Arena.
The victory kept Khan on course for a shot at the world titles late this year, but the 26-year-old admits that he needs once again to work on his defence.
It was Khan's second fight with Hunter in his corner since he sacked trainer Freddie Roach after his fourth-round stoppage loss to Danny Garcia in July last year. Hunter, who also trains world super-middleweight No1 Andre Ward, is based in San Francisco and has urged the boxer to spend more time with him in the California city.
Khan gets married in New York next month and admits that he will be in the United States more with his trainer, as well as his soon-to-be-wife Faryal Makhdoom, than in his hometown of Bolton in northwest England.
"I know there's a lot of improvement still to be made, but it's only my second training camp with Virgil," Khan said.
"Julio took my power and he was a big puncher himself. It's only going to improve me as a fighter having fights like that. He never took a backwards step. I had to rethink and keep moving in the 11th round. If that was the old Amir Khan I would have got stuck in," he added. "I'm probably going to fly over to San Francisco between fights now and do a mini-camp so we can work on things that need to be improved upon. I'm going to spend more time there.
"I only train there for the fight at the moment, which would only be 20 weeks a year if I fight twice a year, which I'm going to be doing this year because [of the Muslim holy fasting month] of Ramadan.
"I want to spend twice as much time over there. The more time I spend with Virgil, the better I will get. I know what mistakes I made," he said. "It's going to be difficult with my whole family living in England."
Hunter says Khan must visit him before beginning training for his next fight, probably in December, if he wants to avenge his world title defeats to Garcia and Lamont Peterson, both from the United States.
"Right now, Amir is at a disadvantage to these other guys, who have given him problems because they are with their trainers all the time," Hunter said.
Diaz, 33, has no intention of retiring and hopes to face another light-welterweight contender, insisting Khan never hurt him.
"I couldn't finish him because he became more dangerous when he was hurt," Diaz said. "I focused too much on the knockout and let the rounds slip away. It was a fair decision.
"He still made the same mistakes. You can't change a fighter overnight, you have to be there 24/7," Diaz added. "He needs to stop exposing himself."