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Names of comeback oppoinents are being touted, none more so than Britains other light Welterweight king Amir Khan, and has suddenly become the one British boxing fans want, however, after Khan’s 76-second blow-out of Dmitriy Salita on Saturday night in defence of his WBA light-welterweight title, will continue to generate speculation until Hatton makes his decision. “Nothing has been decided one way or another,” Hatton’s PR man, Paul Speak, said.
If he were to come back, after being knocked out in two rounds by Khan’s stablemate Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in May, he would need a tune-up bout before contemplating a challenge to Khan. The clamour from an audience who attended Hatton’s dinner-speaking engagement in Newcastle two nights before the Khan fan let him know they would love to see him fight again – and Hatton has always been a fighter who likes to please his vast army of fans.
Khan put in a good performance in Newcastle on Saturday night, his first defence of the title he won in beating Andreas Kotelnik in Manchester and looks to have recovered his confidence after his crushing one-round knockout defeat by the Colombian Briedis Prescott 15 months ago. He is spending Christmas with his family in Bolton and will then return to Los Angeles to resume training alongside Pacquiao, whose next fight will almost certainly be against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A press conference is scheduled for New York on 11 January to announce the date, and probably the venue, for that fight. 13th March 2010 is being mentioned for Khan to appear on the Super fight against Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Amir Khan seems like he wants to fight Hatton, who he admits is a friend and idol of his. They met recently and spoke about getting on what would be one of the biggest British fights in recent years, but at this stage it was just tounge and cheek and both laughed about the possibility, but certainly didnt rule it out.
It is hard to see Hatton resisting the temptation – however ill-advised – not wanting to be part of a fight that would not only would capture the publics imagination here, but also across the pond in the States. Hatton will need a couple of fights to shake the ring rust off and get over his shocking knockout to Pacquiao, and Khans next fight will almost certainly be in America.
“After the reception I got in Newcastle it will be hard to leave England but next year wil be a good time to fight in the States,” Khan told BBC Sport.
“Hopefully we can go and shock the world when we go to America.”
The 22-year-old is currently based in Freddie Roach Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles since teaming up with him last year.
And the Bolton fighter says the time has now come to fulfil a life-long dream and box in the United States.
“Everyone at the gym in LA are always asking me when I’m going to fight in the US and I keep on saying, “soon”,” admitted Khan.
“I’ve been saying it for so long that they’ve stopped asking me, but it’s always been my dream to fight in Las Vegas.”
But while Khan is certain that he wants to fight in the States, he is not so sure of who he will fight next.
Khan, who now has 22 victories from 23 fights, says he intends to sit down after Christmas with promoter Frank Warren and trainer Freddie Roach to discuss his options.
“I’m sure I’ve sent a message out,” said Khan.
“You want to fight the best and we’ll sit down and see what fights are out there for me.”
However, speaking on BBC 5 live’s Sportsweek, Warren dismissed Hatton as a potential opponent for Khan.
“I don’t feel Ricky Hatton should fight any more,” said Warren. “It’s crazy, you’ve only got to look at the size of him. Maybe he could get himself down to the weight, but one thing’s for sure, his reflexes and his legs are gone.
“He’s not the same fighter he was. He won’t be able to get out of the way and I don’t think it’ll be the next fight anyway. For Ricky to be able to fight it would take him about six or seven months to get himself into some shape.”
Warren also believes that any suggestion of a potential match-up between Khan and five-weight, five-time world champion and training and sparring partner Manny Pacquiao are, for the time being at least, wide of the mark. By Chris Maylett
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