LOS ANGELES: Britain’s Amir Khan, trying to fight his way back into the world title picture after back-to-back losses, faces a must-win matchup on Saturday against unbeaten American Carlos Molina.
Khan was stopped in the fourth round last July by America’s Danny Garcia in a showdown for two world titles after a controversial loss to US fighter Lamont Peterson last December in Washington, Peterson’s hometown.
Now Khan, 26-3 with 18 knockouts but winless since stopping Zab Judah in July of last year, will fight another US hometown hero in Molina, 17-0 with one draw and seven knockouts.
“It’s always tough but maybe that’s the reason we’ve been working even harder, because we know we have to win even more convincingly when you come to someone’s backyard and that’s what we’re going to do,” Khan said.
Khan says he is a smarter fighter who is less prone to make mistakes now that he is working with new trainer Virgil Hunter rather than his former trainer, Manny Pacquiao cornerman Freddie Roach.
“I know what mistakes I made in the previous fights and we’re not going to make them again,” Khan said.
“We made mistakes when we usually go in there and it’s like there’s no defense, jumping into a war when we don’t need to have a war and the game plan going out the window and me getting overconfident.
“I start to forget the things that got me far in my career and focus more on the power of speed or aggression.
“We’re going to stick to the skills and be smart with everything because that’s what’s got me this far. You have 12 rounds to do it in, so take your time and be smart about everything and think about everything that you do.
“It’s all about just making sure that we’re going to do things right and we’re going to stick to a game plan.”
Khan, 26, vowed he will show his fans some new moves.
“You will see a new Amir Khan come into this fight,” he said. “The training I’ve been doing with Virgil Hunter has been great — work on new techniques and new skills and everything and be a totally different fighter.”
Molina, 27, figures the new Khan will be no more of a pushover than the old one he has studied in films.
“We’re going to come out of nowhere and shock the world,” Molina vowed. “Beating Khan is going to catapult me to that level where everybody is going to know who I am.”
Molina, moving up from the lightweight ranks, vowed to take punishment to deliver his own punches to Khan.
“No way is he going to put me down and I know he needs this win bad so we’re going to go to war,” Molina said.
“I’m willing to walk through hell and back, man. This is my shot so I’ve got to be smart about it. I just can’t run there and attack a tiger. We have a great game plan.”
The undercard includes a showdown of Mexican unbeatens between Leo Santa Cruz, the International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion, and challenger Alberto Guevara.