LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan has predicted a volatile, high quality contest when his compatriot Ricky Hatton defends his IBO light-welterweight title against Filipino Manny Pacquiao on Saturday.
The 22-year-old has huge respect for both fighters and has regularly sparred with Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles where they share the same trainer, Freddie Roach.
“This fight is going to be explosive,” Khan told Reuters at the MGM Grand Hotel on Tuesday. “You’ve got two great fighters at the peak and the prime of their career.
“I think it’s going to be all about who can get who first, who settles down in the fight quicker and the best man is going to win.”
Khan, who will have his first crack at a world title when he takes on Andreas Kotelnik of Ukraine for the WBA world light-welterweight belt in June, said it was a shame two great fighters had to face each other.
“They could be great fighters in different weights,” said Khan, lightweight silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Games.
“But what a fight it’s going to be for the crowd. I think we are all going to be on the edge of our seats. I can’t wait for it.”
“Manny has got speed, Hatton has got power ... Manny has got great footwork, Hatton is very good at cutting (off) the ring. It’s going to be very explosive.”
Khan disagreed, however, with his trainer Roach’s forecast, that former four-division world champion Pacquiao would beat Hatton in three rounds.
“I think he’s probably just saying three rounds as a mess-around,” said Khan (21-1-0), who has fought mainly in the lightweight division.
“If there is going to be a stoppage from either fighter, I think it will be in the later rounds. It won’t be early.
“This fight is going to be explosive and if it does go to 12 rounds, both fighters are going to be in pain the next day. I know that for a fact.”
Although Hatton has established a reputation for being a brawler more than a boxer, Khan believes the Briton has become much more astute in the ring since linking up with seasoned trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. last year.
“I think Ricky has improved in that area,” Khan said. “He is thinking more about what he throws and he’s a pressure fighter. He has improved big-time on that.”
Editing by Ian Ransom