BOXING superstar Amir Khan has revealed why he will next fight in Sheffield - to walk in the footsteps of legends like Naseem Hamed, writes Graham Walker.
But in an exclusive interview with The Star - listen below - he claims Kell Brook isn’t ready for him yet and if they met now he could “ruin his career”.
Khan highly rates Brook’s next opponent, Devon Alexander, who the Sheffielder will face for the IBF world welterweight crown in Atlantic City on May 18.
Khan, aged 26, who first squares up to Mexican-born former world champ Julio Diaz, at Sheffield Arena on April 27, believes Brook can prove himself by winning the fight.
That could then pave the way for them to meet - in a Battle of Britain which every UK fight fan wants to see.
Khan, speaking from a training camp in San Francisco, said he also chose to fight in Sheffield for the first time to keep a promise to local fans, in the city where he lived for a while and trained for the Olympics.
“They’ve had big fights in Sheffield for years; people like Naseem Hamed. It’s going to be brilliant to fight in a city which is huge in boxing and sport, to be part of that - so one day I can say that I fought in Sheffield and it was a sell out,’’ he told The Star. “I think I’m going to get an amazing reception. Twitter and Facebook are full of it already. I didn’t know what to expect.
“We knew we had a lot of fans there but it’s been amazing to see so many come out and buy tickets. They want to be part of this big boxing night. I offered the fight against the guy who beat Ricky Hatton, Vyacheslav Senchenko, and he refused to take me on.
“But Diaz is a former world champion. He’s got a good knockout percentage, he’s dangerous and hungry.
“I want to put on a great performance and send a statement around the world - that wherever we fight in the UK we will sell it out and put on a great performance. We want fans to walk out of the Arena smiling and happy. I want to entertain the Sheffield crowd.”
And what message has he for Brook - who is used to filling the sam eArena?
The former unified IBF & WBA Super World Light-Welterweight Champion replied: “If that fight happens, it would be huge. But I don’t think he is ready for me at the moment. If he fights somebody like me, it could ruin his career, because he’s not fought anyone at that level. Alexander is a good fighter. It could make a match-up between me and Kell if he wins the world title because then there will be something to fight for.”
Khan suffered back-to-back defeats against Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, who knocked him out in four rounds.
But he returned with a convincing win over Carlos Molina in December.
He has faced and beaten some of the best in the business, including world champions Marco Antonio Barrera, Paul Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah.
The Sheffield under card, on this Golden Boy UK promotion, will feature the debut of Amir’s brother, Haroon, and an appearance by Olympic medalist Anthony Ogogo, as well as Audley Harrison.
BoxNation will broadcast. Tickets are £50-£300. Buy in person, call 0114 256 5656, or visit www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk.