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Featured Image Credit: PA & Instagram: Amir Khan
Amir Khan has no plans to retire after his fight with Kell Brook and says training for their long-awaited grudge match has strengthened his desire to continue his professional career.
Khan, 35, finally takes on Brook in Manchester on Saturday in a catchweight contest at 149lbs, the culmination of a near 20-year feud which stretches all the way back to the amateurs.
Khan suggested last month that he was planning to retire after the bout, writing in a post on Instagram: "People ask me what I'm doing after this fight. I'm done, man."
However, the former light-welterweight world champion has been revitalised by his pre-fight training camp and insists he is not yet ready to hang up his gloves.
"Before the training camp I remember thinking, 'Do I have it left in me?'," Khan told SPORTbible.
"Honestly the way that this camp has gone, the way that I've pushed myself against these younger fighters, running against them, outsparring them, outpunching them, outpointing them… I thought to myself, 'Wow, I've still got it in me to push it hard'.
"I was sparring guys who are younger and fresher than me, who are really good up and coming fighters.
"It was more of a thing that knowing that when you’re 35 it's like you should automatically feel a little bit old, but no - I feel in the best condition I’ve ever been.
"I think I’ve got a few more fights left in me."
To prepare for Brook, Khan travelled to the United States to link up with his former foe, undefeated three-weight world champion Terence Crawford and his trainer Brian 'BoMac' McIntyre in Colorado Springs.
Khan was forced to adapt quickly to a gruelling training camp, which featured hostile sparring sessions at high altitude and long runs through the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.
Brook, who also lost to Crawford in his last fight in 2020, has labelled Khan "mad" for training in such unfamiliar surroundings, but the Bolton fighter feels fully vindicated by his improved fitness levels.
"Training over here [in the UK] now seems so easy, it’s like there’s too much oxygen," Khan joked.
"When I was up in the mountains it was very, very hard. It was never easy.
"I remember doing four-minute rounds of sparring with a 30 second break and thinking, 'How am I going to do 12 rounds?'.
"But I managed to do the 12 rounds, up there with the altitude over 8000ft high.
"I thought, 'If I can do it there, by the time I come back to the UK I’m going to be even fitter, stronger, leaner'.
"I’m going to fly through this fight."
While Khan is confident of victory, the manner of his performance against Brook will no doubt determine whether he chooses to prolong his career.
A rematch clause has been confirmed for the fight, although both men are confident it will not be needed.
Should he decide to call it a day, Khan can look back on a remarkable career which has featured an Olympic silver medal in Athens in 2004, two world title wins in the professional ranks and a number of marquee fights with some of the biggest names the sport has to offer.
When asked if he feels like he's received the respect he deserves, Khan said: "To be honest, when you walk on the street and people see you around, they do show you that big respect.
"But I think they do try to forget some of the things I’ve done in the sport of boxing.
"Saving the Olympic boxing when I was an amateur by staying and making sure they [Team GB] got the funding for the next couple of Olympics. In those Olympics you had the likes of James DeGale, Anthony Joshua and those guys. If I didn’t stay amateur, they were probably going to scrap the funding for boxing in England.
"Maybe sometimes I don’t get that acknowledgement but at the end of the day, I’m doing it for myself. I love the sport, I love boxing. I don’t want to leave the sport thinking I could have done this or that.
"One of the reasons this fight against Kell Brook happened was because of the public demand.
"I want to be one of those fighters that’s the people’s champion. I want to give the people the fights they want. That’s the reason I came back and took it."
Khan is right to claim that there remains huge public interest in the fight, despite the fact both men are nearing the end of their careers.
Tickets for the event reportedly sold out within 10 minutes of going on sale and Khan believes the bad blood between himself and Brook is a major draw for fans.
"Everybody knows that we don’t like each other," he added.
"It’s time now that I settle the score.
"All the talking that he’s been doing for the last 10 years, it’s time to put all that to a stop."