“I called him myself,” Khan (26-3, 18 Kos) said Tuesday at a news conference to announce his Dec. 15 match against Carlos Molina in Los Angeles. “I said, `Freddie, I’m going to make a change.’ Not many people would do that, but I’m the one who called him and said I’m going to move to Virgil Hunter. He wished me all the best, and we left it at that.”
Khan, the former lightweight champion, lost his WBC and WBA 140-pounds belts after being knocked out in the fourth round by Danny Garcia in July.
But one of the culprits of Khan’s decision to make the abrupt move after spending three years with Roach was because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“Freddie’s illness, it’s very hard to see him as he’s getting older,” Khan said. “I believe that he’s getting worse, and I wish him all the best. Freddie is still, with the Parkinson’s disease, doing a great job working the mitts and working with fighters day in, day out. I just believe that I need someone who is going to work me that bit harder and get the best out of me.”
Parkinson’s has not bothered Roach too much because he has been named Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America five times, winning the award three of the last four years.
Roach, angered by the accusations that his disease was a deciding factor in Khan’s determination mentioned that Khan wanted him to fire Manny Pacquiao and Victor Ortiz, to solely focus on him.
When speaking to reporters Khan gave some validity to Roach’s claim of selfishness.
“We all know he’s a great trainer, but I changed because I needed someone who’s going to spend 100 percent time with me,” Khan said. “I need to be more selfish. I’m in this position now when I know I can’t make any mistakes. … With Freddie, it would have been very hard right now, having Manny in his camp, also Chavez, and I think he’s training Victor Ortiz, so it’s a lot of people.”
Khan chose Hunter because of his training ability with Andre Ward, who has climbed up the pound-for-pound rankings.
Khan has already started to tell a considerable difference in the training styles of Hunter and Roach. He notices a significant difference in his body and mental approach. Hunter has repositioned Khan’s energy to fight more with his instead of his heart, which he blames for his knockout loss to Garcia.
“You’ll see a new Amir Khan, for sure,” the British fighter said. “An Amir Khan who is smarter, more focused, and thinking about himself instead of the crowd. I think my style will always please the crowd, but I’m going to be smart and think about everything, instead of jumping in and making mistakes.”
Hunter has pointed out that Khan’s former conditioning coaches have created imbalances in his body that do not fit with the sport of boxing.
“If he was playing basketball or soccer or something, they might help him, but they don’t help in boxing,” Hunter said. “I think that has to do with people just tinkering with a kid who is willing to train, willing to follow instructions, and he’s been let down in a lot of areas that he shouldn’t have been let down in.”
Hunter will attempt revive Khan’s career to where he wants it be, but Khan will have to give his undivided attention Hunter if he wants to beat Molina in Los Angles.