NIALL HICKMAN, RINGSIDE, DAILY EXPRESS â€“ 12/04/07.
A furious war of words has erupted between Amir Khan and highly-rated John Murray, who insists the Olympic hero is “seriously confused”.
Khan dismissed Murray’s credentials as his next opponent, saying he had “played with’ the Manchester fighter when the pair sparred together as juniors. But Murray is adamant he has never faced Khan in the ring and yesterday insisted he believes he is a “hypocrite.’
Khan, 20, said after his 12th professional victory on Saturday that he was in a different class to Murray and also accused him trying to earn a bumper pay-day by calling him out.
“They have all been coming out of the woodwork lately, like John Murray. I sparred with him and played with him. I am in a different league to him,” said Khan.
But Murray, 22, insists he has never sparred with Bolton’s Olympic Silver Medallist and that all he was doing by offering him the chance to fight in Las Vegas on the Oscar de la Hoya â€“ Floyd Mayweather undercard on May 5 was answering Khan’s challenge for his British rivals to face him.
“Khan’s mouth is going to get him in trouble,” said Murray. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard what he said. I have never shared a ring with him.
“He would remember if we had sparred because I would have taken him apart, but we have never sparred as amateurs or at any other time.
“He needs to get his stories straight. He says there are lots of people calling him out, bet he called out his British rivals and said they had better hurry up and fight him.
“He was full of bravado and disrespect last week, insulting far more established fighters, but where’s his bottle now?
“I took up the challenge by saying I would be willing to fight him in Las Vegas when I have my next fight. It’s on the undercard of possibly the biggest night in boxing history, but now he’s looking for the exit signs.
“And he says I am scared. How can I be? I have stepped up to his challenge. Is his head read right? I believe he is a hypocrite for saying he wants his British rivals, but the backing out. Now he has started coming up with fairytales.
“Khan saying I am looking for a pay-day is another absolute insult. I have carved out a name for myself. I won the Boxing Writers’ Young Boxer of the Year Award, just like he has and I am the WBC World Youth Champion â€“ the first in Britain.
“I am at the start of my career. I am not someone looking for a pay-day before he hangs up his gloves. And if either of us is about money, it certainly isn’t me. I think he is the most overpaid fighter in Britain, getting massive money for easy jobs.
“He is hallucinating after 12 fights. He says I am not his level, well he is right in a way â€“ I am on a higher level and I am ranked higher.
“He needs to compare our records. I have been matched well since day one. His opposition is way off mine. I have taken decent late-notice jobs and won and I have boxed outside of the comfort zone, outside of England. I fought in America in my 13th fight and I have offered Khan the chance to do the same, on neutral ground.”
Murray was left unimpressed by Khan’s latest win, after the Bolton boxer stopped Doncaster’s Steffy Bull in three rounds on Saturday.
He said: “Khan fights opponents who are smaller or just there to survive, or who have just come out of retirement, like Bull. Surely they are running out of easy targets?
“People have been saying, “Give him a good crack from me.’ But this wouldn’t be just a high-profile North-West derby; it would also generate a lot of interest.
“Are the public prepared to keep watching a so-called star of the future feast on easy pickings and then run for cover?”