Bolton boxer Amir Khan is on the verge of greatness says trainer Virgil Hunter

Amir Khan taking on Luis Collazo

Amir Khan taking on Luis Collazo

First published in Sport

AMIR Khan can reach “greatness” in boxing if he builds on his victory over Luis Collazo, according to trainer Virgil Hunter.

Khan won every round on two of the three scorecards in Las Vegas on Saturday, knocking Collazo down three times to claim a 119-104, 119-104, 117-106 points win.

Khan produced the best performance at the MGM Grand Arena and showed a recovery from back-to-back defeats that had threatened his career.

After those defeats Khan left trainer Freddie Roach for Virgil Hunter in 2012, with defensive improvements a major priority.

Hunter was delighted with the progress that Khan showed against Collazo, as the 27-year-old Bolton boxer produced a disciplined performance.

“He committed to the training camps like I indicated he needed to, to fix his faults,” Hunter said.

“If he did that he had such ability that it would begin to show.

“You can see the difference. If he continues to keep the same commitment, building off this fight, he is just going to go up and up.

“I was pleased with this fight and I will just keep encouraging him to reach for greatness because it is there for him.”

Khan was stepping up to welterweight for the first time to face the tough Puerto Rican-American Collazo for the WBC silver belt and the WBA international title.

An emphatic victory was required to put him back into contention for a fight with Floyd Mayweather, and that was exactly what he produced.

Watched from ringside by the likes of Mike Tyson and David Haye, Khan used footwork and hand speed to control the fight from the start – not allowing Collazo to do damage to his sometimes vulnerable chin.

The tattoo-covered Collazo was put down by a short right hand in the fourth round.

Khan was adopting the sort of effective approach often used by Mayweather and only in the eighth round did Collazo have any sort of joy.

That led to Khan having a point deducted for excessive holding, in the same round in which Collazo had lost a point for a low blow.

But Khan came roaring back with two knockdowns in quick succession in the 10th round, as he looked close to becoming the first man to stop Collazo since 2002.

His 33-year-old opponent held out until the final bell but Khan comfortably took his professional record to 29 wins from 32 fights.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym with Virgil and I can see how my style is changing,” Khan said.

“He’s a great trainer and he’s making me understand the sport of boxing.

“When I first met him he said you’re a great fighter but you don’t understand boxing, which made sense because sometimes you don’t think when you do things.

“Now he’s got me thinking and making the right moves.

“It was my first fight at welterweight so I had to be more disciplined, I had to be smart.

“I don’t think anyone has ever beaten Collazo like that.

“It shows we are perfect at this weight.”

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