British boxing superstar Amir Khan expects to get back into world title contention with victory over Mexico’s Julio Diaz this weekend.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch digital editor Graham Walker’s highlights from the Amir Khan and Julio Diaz press conference.
Don’t miss the Tarzan-like call by hard-hitting unbeaten American Deontay Wilder who squafre ups to Audley Harrison, 41, who says he’s now also back at his best on the way to becoming a world champ.
Former world light welterweight champion Khan is rebuilding his career after controversially losing his WBA and IBF belts to Lamont Peterson in 2011 and then failing to take the WBC equivalent off Danny Garcia last year.
He began his road back to the top by stopping Carlos Molina last December and Garcia could come back into his sights if he can overcome Diaz in Sheffield.
The 25-year-old said: “This fight will straight away elevate us back into world-title fights.
“But I am not thinking any further than this fight yet. I just want to get through this one and then we will know exactly where we are.”
The fight at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena, billed as ‘The Return of the King’, will be Khan’s first in the UK for two years.
The non-title bout has been set at a 143-pound “catch weight” - between super lightweight and welterweight - with Khan stepping up and California-based veteran Diaz, a former world lightweight champion, coming down in weight from his most recent fights.
Khan said: “I need to thank Julio Diaz for coming all the way from America.
“Not many fighters do what I do - I go to their hometown or home country and fight them there, with my world titles.
“But no-one likes to come to me and fight in my home country, so it is great Julio Diaz has shown bottle and come over.”
The fight is the highlight of a packed card which also sees Khan’s younger brother Haroon make his professional debut in a four-round super flyweight contest against Bulgaria’s Stefan Slavchev.
Haroon Khan, 21, won 66 fights as an amateur and Amir thinks he is ready for the step up.
Amir Khan said: “As long as he is disciplined and trains hard I am sure he can go all the way.
“I want to advise him from day one, all the way to the top.”
Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo also fights for the first time in the paid ranks as he comes up against Telford middleweight Kieron Gray over six rounds.
Heavyweight Audley Harrison, 41, is in action against hard-hitting unbeaten American Deontay Wilder.
Harrison was widely written off after losing for a sixth time, to Liverpool’s David Price, last year but he is convinced he can see off Wilder - who has won all 27 of his fights by knockout - to earn another world-title shot.
Harrison said: “After David Price people thought they wouldn’t see me again, but setbacks pave the way for comebacks.
“I set a goal to be world champion and quite a few times I have fallen, but each time I have got up.
“I am still living my dream and focused on my goal of becoming world champion.”
* Return here tomorrow to see our exclusive video chat with Haroon Khan and his biggest fight - to prove he’s the real deal and not living off his brother’s name.