Amir Khan points to coronavirus risks and says he will not box behind closed doors


Khan has not fought since beating Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia in July
Khan has not fought since beating Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia in July

Former world champion Amir Khan says he has no intention of boxing behind closed doors if and when boxing returns during the coronavirus pandemic.

British boxing bosses hope to see fight nights return in July but initially fans will be unable to attend.

“Even though there is big money I wouldn’t be able to do it as I need the fan base there,” Khan told BBC Sport.

“I’ve got three kids. I do so much in the sport already and I feel I’d rather be 100% sure before I jump back in.”

The 33-year-old added: “I don’t want to get sick. I’ve had a great career. Do I really need to risk it and see what’s going to happen? I’d rather hold back a little bit and see what the situation is like.”

‘Ridiculous money needed for big names’

Khan, a 2004 Olympic silver medallist, last fought in Saudi Arabia in July when he beat Billy Dib to move to 34 wins from 39 professional fights.

The former unified light-welterweight world champion has trained at his home during the pandemic but is frustrated he moved much of his exercise equipment out of his house shortly before the UK’s lockdown was imposed.

The impact of the virus on the sport has prompted widespread cancellations and postponements.

The British Boxing Board of Control is currently in dialogue with promoters over a July return but strict measures would need to be in place at any show, including a ban on fans.

“I just feel that for a boxer to walk into an arena and walk into a fight having no fans in an empty stadium it’s going to be like walking into a sparring session so I can’t really see that working,” Khan added.

“It’s hard to lift yourself really and get yourself ready for a fight. I can’t see the big names doing that unless there’s ridiculous money from the TV Company on the table. You need the audience there to lift your spirits.”

Blood, sweat and danger

Khan believes “only top-level promoters” are capable of putting boxing events on given the absence of ticket-sale revenue because they can at least fall back on money offered by television companies as some form of income from which fighters and staff can be paid.

But the British Boxing Board of Control’s proposals for safeguarding shows from the virus have delivered an added pressure.

Every competitor at a show must be tested and self isolate at a designated hotel – paid for by the promoter – until results are known. Fighters will also need to wear protective face masks on their way to any venue and during their ring walks, while officials will also wear the masks during fights.

Khan added: “What if someone gets badly injured or catches something from his opponent? I just think it’s going to be quite tough.

“At times when you hit someone with a shot, the spit will come onto you; the sweat will fall on you. When you hit someone there is going to be blood flying off you and coming onto you. I’ve had fights where after the fight I’ve had blood on my arm and I’ve wondered where it’s come from, but it’s been from my opponent.

“I just feel like it’s going to be very dangerous.”

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