Amir Khan believes upcoming opponent Devon Alexander represents a tougher test than IBF welterweight champion and Sheffield rival Kell Brook.
Khan is looking to catapult himself into contention for major bouts against boxing kingpins Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015 by beating former two-weight world champion Alexander on December 13 in Las Vegas.
A mouthwatering domestic showdown with Brook has also been mooted after the Sheffield fighter captured a portion of the world title in the 147lb division by beating Alexander’s conqueror Shawn Porter in August.
Brook has been ruled out of action until early next year at least after being stabbed in the leg while on holiday in Tenerife.
The Sheffielder has a healthy dislike of Khan and would love to reinforce that message between the ropes.
But Khan is adamant that Alexander, 27, is the best challenger anyway.
“I could have taken an easier fight in fighting Kell Brook in the UK, but that’s the type of fighter I am, I want the exciting fights, I want the tough fights and, while I’m at this age and at my peak, I want to be facing the top guys,” said Khan, also 27.
“No disrespect to Kell, I think if it was Kell Brook it would have been an easier fight because he doesn’t throw as many punches and he is quite easy to hit. Even though he beat Shawn Porter, who beat Devon, styles makes fights.
“I want to give the fans what they want, they want to see this fight between me and Devon and that’s what they’re getting.”
The pair may have faced each other 12 months ago, when Alexander held the IBF title, but Khan opted not to take the fight as he thought he was close to securing a contest with Mayweather, only for the pound-for-pound king to take on Marcos Maidana instead.
Alexander went on to lose his crown to Porter in December last year, but proved he is still a threat in the welterweight division by comfortably outpointing fringe contender Jesus Soto Karass in June.
And Khan (29-3, 19KOs), who has won his last three bouts since being savagely stopped by Danny Garcia two years ago, including an impressive points win over Luis Collazo on his welterweight debut in May, is not taking the challenge lightly.
“We knew the fight was going to happen one day because we’re both young and we’re both at the peak of our career. It’s happening a year later which is a good thing,” he said.
“There are big goals ahead of us in the future, we know this fight will take us on to bigger and better things so it’s all about just working hard and winning this fight.
“The only person in my mind is Devon. I’m not looking past this fight because I made that mistake a long time ago by looking too far ahead and I’m taking one fight a step at a time. I’m going to be focused on this fight.
“I have a game plan to go into the fight and to win the fight and it’s all about getting the win. I’m 100 per cent focused on this, I’m not going to let anything get to me or words get to me or affect me in any way.”
The bout for the lightly-regarded WBC Silver welterweight title represents something of a crossroads fight for both Khan and Alexander (26-2, 14KOs), who can match the Bolton fighter for speed and will be keen to show his defeat to American compatriot Porter was merely an off-night.
“This is an opportunity that I’ve been waiting so long for,” he said. “This is a fight where there are bound to be fireworks. I’m excited and ready to get in the ring.
“I’m in the prime of my career, I’m a difficult task now. Every time I have a fight, I get better and better.
“In this fight I’m going to be explosive and fast. You’re going to see a mix of it all.”