‘Lead him a merry dance’: Boxing legend Ricky Hatton backs ring rusty Amir Khan ahead of Collazo return bout

Manchester boxing legend Ricky Hatton reckons if 2004 Olympic medallist Amir Khan plays his cards right against Luis Collazo in Las Vegas this weekend he could show the planet his milllion-dollar best.

Despite a 12-month lay-off, the Pride of Bolton is brimming with confidence ahead of his highly anticipated bout on Saturday against tricky southpaw Collazo, Khan’s welterweight debut.

Hatton, a former WBA, IBF, IBO and The Ring Light Welterweight Champion and WBA Welterweight Champion is assured that once Khan steps back into the spotlight he will immediately shrug off any rust and produce a brilliant boxing display.

“Amir can get a hands-down ­decision and look a million dollars against Collazo, who is made for him,” Hatton told Telegraph Sport.

“If Amir does what he does best – in, out, fast hands, footwork, movement – he could lead him a merry dance.

“But if he doesn’t, the dream could be over and I’d hate to see that. He’s my mate and if he doesn’t know that himself then there’s something wrong.”

Athens silver medallist Khan, a former light-welterweight champion, is poised to take on the American at the MGM Grand Arena in Vegas as part of the lucrative undercard for undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather.

In the main event the pound-for-pound pro will go to-to-toe against Argentinian brawler Marcos Maidana – a fight that Khan was desperate to feature in himself.

The past calendar year has been a frustrating period for Khan who suffered several set-backs and passed up the opportunity to face Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title in December.

“It was a difficult time,” said Khan. “But the fact is I moved on fairly quickly when I knew the Mayweather shot wasn’t happening.

“It was just about refocusing my mind on the next opponent and luckily we were able to announce Luis Collazo straight away which allowed me the chance to get back in the ring as soon as possible.

“I wanted a tough challenge at welterweight and not just to go in there against some average guy. Collazo is a legitimate welterweight who is very confident after his win against Victor Ortiz but I know I have the tools to beat him.”

Hatton also believes that the 27-year-old is equipped with all the right tools to beat Collazo, but states Khan will need to keep a cool head in the heat of battle.

“What Amir needs to do is stick to what he does best, and use his skill and speed.

“I think when he does that, he looks like a world-beater, but the only time he’s in trouble is when he goes into a war. We saw that with Breidis Prescott and Danny García [both defeats for Khan]. He can’t afford to do that 7lb up.

“Somewhere along the line Amir started to see himself as a scrapper. I think he needs to go back to the old Amir.

“He’s got a good trainer in Virgil Hunter, a very intelligent trainer. I think he’s got to keep drilling it into Amir that the only chance this fella’s got is if he stands still for a second.”

Hatton knows that his compatriot will need to be wary of the 33-year-old American especially after a solid performance against Ortiz.

Hatton took the World Boxing ­Association welterweight title from Collazo in a tightly-contested bout which was decided by a unanimous decision eight years ago in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Amir fights with his heart, but my advice is, don’t listen to your heart, listen to your brain this time and if he does that I think he wins a comfortable fight. If he doesn’t it could all go pear-shaped.

“Collazo wasn’t the most difficult to hit and I remember him being flat-footed. But Amir’s got to be disciplined in this performance.

“Just like when he won the world title against Andriy Kotelnik with his boxing skills. If he does that, it’s a comfortable fight. If he doesn’t, and starts getting involved in a battle, I think he’ll come second.

“There are dangers here for Amir. I think Collazo will have the hunger factor, hungrier than he’s ever been because he’ll feel he’s been hard done by.”

Khan has spent time away in San Francisco working with highly-rated American trainer Hunter and thinks the time spent on all aspects of his fighting will give him the edge to beat Collazo.

The last time he entered the ring was last April in Sheffield when he defeated Julio Diaz. 

Main image courtesy of iFL TV via YouTube, with thanks.

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