‘It’s a big chance for me’: Singaporean Amir Khan ready to rise to the challenge in One Championship clash
Khan faces Australian veteran Adrian “The Hunter” Pang in a lightweight clash as the co-main event on the biggest night of the year at the Singapore Indoor Stadium
A golden opportunity appeared when the One Championship’s world atomweight champion Angela Lee was ruled out of Friday’s night’s Immortal Pursuit card in Singapore.
Amir Khan didn’t have to be asked twice about stepping into the limelight.
“It’s a big chance for me and I know if I have an impressive win I will move one step closer to a title shot,” said the 23-year-old Singaporean.
Khan (8-2) will face Australian veteran Adrian “The Hunter” Pang (22-10-2) in a lightweight clash as the co-main event on the biggest night of the year for the One organisation, to be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday.
Lee was pulled out of the action after being left battered and bruised following a car crash in Hawaii on November 6. It was a big loss but the 10-fight card still boasts the farewell appearance of One world welterweight champion Ben Askren (17-0) – whom many rate as the best in his division in the world – against an MMA legend in Japan’s Shinya Aoki (39-7).
Then there’s also the rise of the local hero in Khan.
The momentum the hard-hitting lightweight has been building with five straight wins over the past two years has paid off and the door towards a potential clash with One’s duel featherweight and lightweight world champion Martin “The Situ Asian” Nguyen (10-1) has now become ajar.
“It feels good to be co-main event,” said Khan. “I feel sorry for Angela but the opportunity is there for me now to step up and put on a good show for the fans. I am really confident in my skills and I really feel I can right now challenge for the world title. Martin is one hell of the fighter but I am looking forward to facing him in the future.”
Fans in Singapore and across the region have taken Khan’s story to heart since he first emerged on the Asian MMA scene in 2014. Khan turned to martial arts as a youngster who had been bullied by his peers due to the tics that come with Tourette Syndrome. The exercise and the discipline he found in martial arts help calm his mind, and keep his body under control, he said.
“Martial arts not only helped with my Tourette Syndrome, it helped build my confidence,” said Khan.
“Growing up I would get mocked in the streets, and I was just not confident. But through martial arts I learned not to shy away from my condition. As humans we are quite adaptable and how it doesn’t bother me a bit. I am confident.”
Khan has carved up his most recent opponents, and his recent record boasts four first-round stoppages in that five-win streak. He said the series of one-sided affairs had helped him grow in both strength and in confidence, as had his double life as a trainer as well as a student at Singapore’s Evolve MMA gym.
“We have world champions everywhere at Evolve,” said Khan. “They keep you on your toes and knock me around every now and then. Well, actually more than every now and then. I’ve been trying to learn more in every single area of MMA. I try to always keep an open mind. Take in as much knowledge as I can. Be humble and down to earth and learn.”
In Pang – a three-time former Australian champion – Khan will meet a fighter who at 40 years old has done the rounds, and who has been telling the media Down Under that he’s been desperate to get back into the cage after a one-year hiatus from appearing on a One card. Pang said he is ready to come to Singapore, and to rumble.
It’ll be the biggest test Khan has faced since he was matched up against Thai star Shannon “One Shin” Wiratchi (8-1) back in May 2015 and lost by split decision after three rounds – the last time a bout has gone against the Singaporean.
“He’s a tough dude and I just have to concentrate on fighting my fight and not getting sucked into the way he wants to fight,” said Khan. “But whether it’s my first fight or my last fight I approach it the same way and focus on my fight plan.”