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Amir Khan believes appearing on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here has helped his career ahead of Phil Lo Greco bout


Amir Khan has been away a while but insists he is as popular as ever as he prepares to face Phil Lo Greco.

Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) faces Canada’s Lo Greco in a non-title welterweight battle — the first live boxing event on the new ESPN+ subscription streaming service — after suffering a fourth career defeat when he stepped up two weight divisions to box Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May 2016.

Since being stopped in six rounds by Alvarez, Khan has recovered from hand surgery and took part in the survival reality television game show ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ on British TV channel ITV.

The hit television series averaged between eight and 10 million viewers every day for two weeks in the UK and Khan is adamant it has kept him in the limelight despite not boxing in the UK for six years.

“People saw a different side of me,” Khan told ESPN. “I’m a fun and likeable guy. Since the show, there’s more interest in me, people want to know what Amir Khan is doing and when he’s fighting next.

“I’ve got a new fan base because of that show, like women and kids. When I go out to the shopping centre, or go to the park with my daughter, people say ‘oh, I loved you in the jungle’. People who don’t watch boxing have been coming up to me.

“I went in there without a gameplan, I went in there blind, just being myself. It was only two days before the jungle that the head of ITV told me it will do your career a lot of good because I had pulled out of it because I was scared of some things in there.

“But my family said it will be good for you with the problems I was having, losing to Canelo, I was going to leave my wife. But I went in there and I really enjoyed it. Now it’s like when I came back from the Olympics [2004].

“The hardest job is getting in the ring. The things I had to do in the jungle don’t compare to boxing, where you are one punch away from getting killed. There were people there in the jungle to protect you, so if you got bit by a snake they would be there to look after you.”

But Khan’s preparations were rocked last month by a late change of trainers after Virgil Hunter was taken ill. Khan prepares for fights at Hunter’s California gym but had to draft in Los Angeles based Joe Goossen.

Khan, 31, says he expects to be more defensive in his ring return with Goossen in the corner.

“With Joe Goossen, I’ve had to change a bit,” Khan told ESPN. “Joe is trying to work on my defensive side more and I’ve been trying to get a lot of sparring in. I can see myself getting better and sharper and being more precise.

“I was quite shocked because Virgil was OK in training camp. But said to me this will be a tough fight with me coming back after two years out. He said I was doing so well in the Canelo fight.

“I lost contact with him because he was in hospital so I went with Joe Goosen because he was in LA, so let’s see where we go after this fight.”

Asked if he will be the same fighter against Lo Greco, Khan said: “It’s hard to tell because I’m one of those fighters who has a huge heart. I love getting into tear-ups. I have a good boxing brain, a lot of skills and I like to mix it up. Whatever Phil Lo Greco brings, I’m going to have answers for it.”

Khan clashed with Lo Greco at a press conference in January but says he will be on his best behaviour this week.

“I’m too old for all of that talk,” Khan told ESPN. “I threw the water to show him who was the boss, it was a bit of banter to cool him down, shut him up.

“He’s not getting on my nerves at all, I’m too mature for that. I’m not going to play these games. I know I’m the better fighter. I’m not the same fighter who was fighting Danny Garcia and getting involved. Skills win fights, not aggression.”



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