Amir Khan has revealed he knew his boxing career was over as his body broke down in the build-up to his recent defeat by Kell Brook.
‘I tore my rotator cuff, my tendon split in half in my right arm, it’s still sore now and I can’t lift it up much,’ the 35-year-old said on Monday, three days after announcing his retirement.
‘But I didn’t want to tell people about that because I didn’t want people to say “Amir is making excuses”.
Amir Khan has detailed how pre-fight injuries prior to facing Kell Brook led to his retirement
Khan (right) felt under pressure to give fans a show but knew he didn’t ‘have it left’ in him
‘My knees were hurting in training camp. I was still pushing myself hard and then that’s when it hit me: “Do you know what? I don’t have it left in me… I’m not as good as I used to be.” So I had to be honest with myself and call it a day.’
But not before he was stopped in the sixth round of their long-awaited grudge match. That brutal battle in February turned out to be the final bow of a 17-year career.
‘I couldn’t let anyone down,’ Khan said. ‘So I decided: “I’m going to go ahead with it.” But deep down in my mind, I wasn’t mentally prepared… I’d trained hard, but I didn’t have it in me. I was already done as a fighter. That’s when it hit me.’
Khan is glad he fought Brook regardless. In fact, the only regret of his brilliant career – which included world titles and an Olympic silver medal – was that they didn’t meet earlier.
‘Everyone would have hated me for not taking that fight. No regrets at all,’ he said. ‘Maybe it might have been a different story if it had been a couple of years earlier.’
The 35-year-old’s immediate focus now is on investments such as property. He will remain in boxing as a promoter – he claims to have just signed a ‘big deal’ in New York and has shows in the UK lined up. ‘So I’ll have my foot in the door but not in the ring,’ he said.
Khan ruled out future exhibition bouts. Even the thought of training is too much for now.
Brook produced a sixth round stoppage of bitter rival Khan (left) at the Manchester Arena
‘With these injuries I’m getting, if I was asked to get in a ring I would be like “Hell no”,’ he said.
‘I don’t even want to train. I want to enjoy this retirement not walk into a gym for a least a couple of months.’
Khan has earned that break after nearly two decades in the spotlight, which began as a 17-year-old at the 2004 Olympics.
The Bolton fighter took constant flack despite breaking America and becoming a unified light-welterweight champion.
‘I met Floyd Mayweather the other day. He was so respectful, really, really nice,’ Khan said. ‘He said you have had such a brilliant career. When that comes from someone like him, that’s amazing.’
Khan claimed Mayweather said ‘we should get it on,’ and warned him off retirement. It is some role reversal after Khan spent years chasing a fight with Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
‘After the last fight I thought I’d better stay quiet,’ he joked.
In the lead up to facing Brook, Khan tore his rotator cuff and split a tendon in his right arm
‘At least I can say when I wanted to fight him he didn’t want to fight me. He was scared… for people to know that these people didn’t want to fight Amir Khan, it’s a little thing in my little bucket.’
The 35-year-old had recently been linked with a possible fight against Conor Benn but Khan claims no formal offer ever came his way. Instead he is left to reflect on what came and went.
His most memorable win? That gruelling Las Vegas battle with Marcos Maidana in 2010 – ‘it catapulted me in America’ – while the most painful defeat came at the hands of Danny Garcia in 2012.
That was Khan’s second KO defeat after he was shockingly beaten by Breidis Prescott in 2008.
More brutal losses followed against pound-for-pound greats Canelo Alvarez and Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford.
Khan put in a dazzling display as he defeated Marcos Maidana in a perhaps career-best win
Breidis Prescott destroyed a previously unbeaten Khan inside the first minute of round one
‘I’ve got a beautiful family, beautiful kids, I’ve got enough money in the bank so let’s sit back and relax,’ he said. ‘Why continue when anything can happen? You’re only one punch away from getting hurt, knocked out or killed… that’s something I was always scared of.’
Thankfully, Khan bows out healthy having played a pivotal role in the recent boom in British boxing. He served, too, as an inspiration to generations that followed. ‘People used to say we are Muslim, we are Asian we can’t make it in boxing.’ Now?
‘I think I’ll be remembered as a fighter who never shied away from any fighter. I tried to give everyone the biggest fights they ever wanted, tried to have them on the edge of their seats and win, lose or draw, it was always an exciting night.’
Even at the last, in defeat by Brook. ‘We will probably get together one day,’ Khan said.
‘Hitting each other is the best thing for getting people closer together and that’s what happened. We got closer together. Nothing but love for him. Wish him all the best in his life now.’