The hype surrounding 22 year old lightweight prospect Amir Khan may not be the same since his stunning first round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott last September, but the 2004 Olympic Silver Medallist has the full confidence of his head trainer, Freddie Roach, as they prepare in Los Angeles for Khan’s showdown with multiple world champion “The Baby Faced Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera on Saturday, March 14 at The MEN Arena in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Khan, 19-1 (15), training at Roach’s famed Wild Card Gym, defends his WBA International lightweight title against seven-time world champion Barrera, 65-6 (42), in the 12 round main event.
The two other PPV fights will be former WBO cruiserweight title-holder Enzo Maccarinelli, 29-2 (22), against NABO champ Ola “Kryptonite” Afolabi, 13-1-3 (5), for the WBO cruiserweight championship, while WBO super middleweight champion Nicky “Cookie” Cook, 29-1 (16), defends his title belt against undefeated No. 1 contender Roman “Rocky” Martinez, 21-0-1 (12).
Khan, coming off of a win by second-round TKO of Oisin Fagan for the WBA International title last December, is rated No. 9 by the WBO and No. 13 by the IBF. Roach favourably compares his prospect Khan with his ace, pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.
“Athleticism, speed...everything,” Roach explained why he believes Amir will emerge victoriously. “Barrera’s best was at 122 and 126; Amir is a big 135-pounder. It’s the perfect time: 22 year old kid against a 35 year old veteran. We respect Barrera and there’s a lot we have to look out from him. Barrera can set-up guys with his experience but we’ve really prepared for that.
“Amir reminds me a lot of Manny Pacquiao. They’re both very athletic and Amir is the only guy who can run with Manny. I remember Manny getting knocked out early in his career by Rustico Torrecampo in 1996 and everybody writing him off. Amir came in on a bigger stage from the Olympics, but I believe he’ll rebound and become world champion. I
"brought Amir here to camp to be with Manny and sparring together has built Amir’s confidence. If he can do as well as he did with Manny, he can do as well against anybody. He just made a young man’s mistake against Prescott, going for the knockout, and he got caught. Anybody can get caught and Amir is perfecting his defense. He has come along well since his first fight with me.”
Barrera, who has held world titles in three different weight classes during his 19 year pro career, holds wins against a Who’s Who of contemporary world champions and/or challengers such as Erik Morales (twice), Paulie Ayala, Prince Naseem Hamed, Kevin Kelly, Johnny Tapia, Robbie Peden, Mzonke Fana, and Rocky Juarez (twice).
WBO No. 1 rated Maccarinelli, ranked No. 6 by The Ring, defeated Mohamed Azzaoui, Wayne Braithwite, Bobby Gunn, Marcelo Fabian Dominguez and Mark Hobson (twice) during his WBO title reign of 2006-2008.
The WBO No. 2 rated London-born Afolabi, now living in California, captured the NABO crown last April, stopping previously unbeaten Eric Fields in the 10th round.
Cook won the WBO super featherweight title in his last fight, taking a 12-round unanimous decision from Alex Arthur last September in The MEN Arena. The former European champion is rated No. 6 by The Ring.
Puerto Rican star on the rise, NABO super featherweight title-holder Martinez, in addition to being the WBC’s top contender, is also rated No. 4 by the WBA No. 9 by The Ring.
Integrated Sports is distributing three 12-round championship bouts featured on the “Khan-Barrera” pay-per-view card, presented by Frank Warren, in North America for live viewing at 4 PM/ET – 1 PM/PT on cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, TVN, DirecTV and Dish Network in the United States, as well as Viewer’s Choice and Bell TV in Canada, for a suggested retail price of only $24.95.
Veteran blow-by-blow announcer Ian Darke and color analyst, former WBC lightweight champion Jim Watt, will be calling the action from ringside for Sky Box Office and Integrated Sports PPV.