Amir Khan, the champion British boxer of Pakistani origin, has offered to help Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side, whose fitness and match preparation at the Cricket World Cup has come in for criticism after its loss to arch-rival India on Sunday.
“I tweeted about it that I am ready to offer help to Pakistan. I have been involved in sports science, so I know how diet is important. That’s something our local guys from India or Pakistan don’t understand,” said Khan, who was in attendance for the match at Old Trafford.
After Pakistan’s defeat, a video surfaced of its players sitting at a cafe and captain Sarfaraz yawning on the field during the match.
“We all have downtime. But don’t have downtime a day before the game. Where the Pakistan team went wrong is, on the week of the competition, they were out enjoying themselves, not sleeping well, eating junk food,” said Khan, the lightweight silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“Diet is very important. It’s like putting the right fuel in the car. In a body, you need vegetables and nutrients to work. Chips or burgers won’t help you. When you are training for a match, stay focused. When it is time to train and perform, be like a nun. Eat, clean, sleep and train. When I train, I stay away from family, I don’t party, don’t drink alcohol,” he said.
Fighting an Indian
At 32, Khan believes he has reached the last chapter of his career, but is not ready to give up. “I plan to maximise it as much as I can and fight as much as possible,” he told Sportstar after a long training session at Bolton on Monday.
Khan held the WBC Silver welterweight title from 2014 to 2016, but his bid to become a two-weight champion fell short in his last outing against Terence Crawford in New York for the WBO welterweight title.
Next, on July 12, Khan will take on unheralded welterweight Neeraj Goyat in Jeddah for the WBC Pearl World Championship — the first time he will square off against an Indian pugilist, he says he is looking forward to the challenge.
“There has always been talks of me fighting with somebody from India, but it has never materialised. For example, there was (2008 Olympics middleweight bronze medallist) Vijender Singh. I was looking up to it. He is a great champion, and I think it will make a good fight. Even though he is a bit heavyweight, I am willing to go on the upper category and fight him. While we were talking about a fight with him, Neeraj Goyat came up and said, ‘I will fight you.’ He challenged me and I said no problem,” Khan said.
“He (Goyat) is a WBC Asia champion. He has kind of proven himself. I thought why not take up the fight, it will make good business sense because one is from Pakistan and the other from India. Instead of people fighting it on the border, why not take the fight to the boxing ring and stage an event where people from both nations can get together?” he added.
While a section of the boxing fraternity believes that by fighting a relatively low-profile opponent, Khan has lowered the bar, but he doesn’t think that way. “My hero Muhammad Ali did the same thing. He fought around the world against different opponents. So, I am following his footsteps. You have to respect every opponent. One punch can change your life. Goyat has lost; so have I. I should never underestimate anyone. A lot of people don’t give Goyat the credit he deserves. He is a WBC champion and has made it big in the last two years,” Khan said.
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