Bolton’s Amir Khan steps out in Las Vegas on Saturday for what is possibly the biggest fight of his rollercoaster career.
His opponent, Devon Alexander, may not be a household name but make no mistake, the American will be no walkover.
With victories over Junior Witter, Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana, Alexander is not someone to be taken lightly.
And a victory over the former WBC and IBF light welterweight and former IBF welterweight champion could be the key for Khan to unlock the door to even bigger bouts.
While a clash with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not guaranteed, it will be enormously difficult for the unbeaten American to ignore Khan any longer.
A win against Alexander could also pave the way for a mouth-watering clash with Manny Pacquiao, Khan’s former sparring partner.
For Khan though, as always, he insists his eyes are not on Mayweather but firmly on the opponent at hand.
“My priority is to beat as many fighters as possible and put myself in a position that cannot be ignored,” Khan told MM.
“Whether it’s Mayweather or Pacquiao, it’s difficult to say, but I’m mixing with the best and that’s my goal as a fighter.”
It had been a difficult couple of years for the 28-year-old fighter after back-to-back losses to Lamont Peterson in 2012 and Danny Garcia in 2013 left the Olympic silver medallist’s career on the ropes.
In a desperate attempt to kick-start his career he left acclaimed trainer Freddy Roach and opted to be taken under the wing of Virgil Hunter.
It was a move that many questioned at the time. Roach is one of the most respected trainers in the world, but over time the decision has proved to be the right one.
Modest wins over Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz helped get Khan back to winning ways however it was his victory against former WBA welterweight champion, Luis Collazo, last May that propelled Khan well and truly back in the spotlight.
“With every fight I learn something and I try to take the positives from every fight into my next one,” he said. “It’s all about developing skills.
“With Collazo and Devon both being southpaw style fighters, I feel like that’s given me an advantage because I’ve been training specifically to fight southpaws for the last two fights so I think this will give me the edge against Alexander.”
The Collazo fight was Khan’s first venture at welterweight, and after being inactive for more than a year it was abundantly clear the time had not been wasted.
Khan was able to physically impose himself on the New Yorker, known for his crushing body shots.
His speed and boxing ability has rarely been questioned by boxing purists over the years, and he displayed both in abundance.
It was not just the victory, but the manner of the victory that opened up a world of opportunities for Khan at welterweight, which is perhaps the most competitive division in all of boxing.
“It’s a very competitive weight class and there’s no doubt that some of boxing’s biggest names are currently featuring in it,” said Khan.
“Every fight is tough at this level, make no mistake about that, so I approach every fight with the same determination, passion and preparation regardless of my opponent.
“I don’t know who would give me the hardest fight but I can promise you each of my opponents will have a tough job on their hands to beat me.”
One fight that has been much talked about in recent months is a mega domestic battle with the recently-crowned IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook.
Like Khan, Brook has had to battle adversity himself, having previously pulled out of two fights with Alexander through injury.
Brook, from Sheffield, bounced back and eventually earned his title shot once again, this time against Shawn Porter. He beat the American on points in his own back yard.
That victory has given fresh weight to a showdown with Khan and both fighters have been vocal when approached on the subject.
Khan typically fights in America, but Carl Froch v George Groves at Wembley stadium earlier this year proved that domestic battles can be as big as any in boxing.
Despite Brook picking up the IBF welterweight title, Khan still feels he has bigger fish to fry.
“I’d love to fight in the UK again, I love the fans over here,” he said.
“It’s definitely something I’d be open to at some point but I want the biggest and best names out there in 2015.
“For now though, my mind is solely on Alexander and getting past him. At this stage I can’t look beyond December 13 and that fight.”
Main image courtesy of boxnationtv via YouTube, with thanks.