BOLTON superstar Amir Khan returns to the ring for the first time in 12 months in Las Vegas tomorrow night confident of victory in his first clash as a welterweight.
The former unified light-welterweight world champion takes on American Luis Collazo and believes his year-long sabbatical has improved him as a fighter.
Khan says fight fans will see a better boxer at the MGM Grand as he looks to wow the vieweing public and take another step towards a dream clash with pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather who tops tomorrow’s bill.
Khan said: “I think people will see a big difference in me now.
“The training camp has been long. It is 12 months out of the ring for me now but in that time I have been in four camps with Virgil (Hunter, trainer) developing my style and improving my skills as a fighter.
“The last 12 months have been frustrating at times not being in the ring – particularly the last four waiting for the Mayweather fight that didn’t happen.
“Not knowing who or where and when I was fighting was not ideal but I moved on when I was told Mayweather wasn’t happening.
“But it has given me a chance to work hard with Virgil on the mistakes I was making.
“We have focused on not having my footwork too wide or lunging in.
“It is the longest break I have had in my professional career but maybe I needed that. I was fast-tracked in as a youngster and never really had a break.”
Khan passed up the chance to face Devon Alexander last December for the IBF welterweight title, believing a Mayweather showdown was edging closer.
But when that did not transpire, the 27-year-old’s focus quickly switched to Collazo.
And he is cautious of an experienced opponent who has a record of 35 wins from his 40 fights and beat Victor Ortiz with a second-round knockout in hsi last outing in January.
He added: “Luis Collazo is a tough guy. He recently had a good win against Victor Ortiz.
“He also had a really close fight against Ricky Hatton.
“To overlook him would be foolish, he needs to be respected.
“He is up there with the best and will be a tough fight for me.
“I wanted a tough challenge at welterweight and not just to go in there against some average guy.
“Collazo is a legitimate welterweight. but it’s time for me to show how good I am.
“People are going to see an improved Amir Khan, the best Amir Khan, there’s no doubt in my mind about that.”
It is not just Khan who has plenty to gain from victory tomorrow with Collazo also keen to use a win as a springboard for even bighger bouts.
The Puerto Rican-American, who lost on points in a close fight against Hatton in 2006, said: “This fight is my whole career right in front of me.
“I believe if I beat Amir Khan I have a bigger future in boxing and if I don’t, I have to start from the bottom again.
“I am not looking beyond Amir Khan. He is my main focus.
“A win over Khan does put me in the Mayweather sweepstakes, but my sights are set on Khan.”
l Khan v Collazo is live on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD & Virgin 546) tomorrow night.
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