AMIR Khan admits the last 12 months have been the worst year of his life as he aims to end a catastrophic run by beating Carlos Molina in a "make or break" fight tomorrow.
The Bolton light-welterweight faces unbeaten Molina at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena knowing it is win or bust following two devastating defeats in a row.
Khan (26-3, 18KOs) lost a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson in Washington a year ago before being stunned by Danny Garcia in a fourth-round stoppage on his next appearance. Meanwhile, the former two-time world champion has endured various problems outside of the ring which have surely added to the strain.
Now he faces untested Molina, acutely aware that another shock defeat will send him crashing out of the world title picture and perhaps end his career as an elite-level fighter.
"It's a make or break fight for me because I have to win it if I want to move on to bigger and better things," he told Press Association Sport.
"This year has probably been the worst of my life, losing my WBA world title, having those two defeats and things that happened.
"It's been tough. It's just about regrouping and redeeming myself.
"It's one of the biggest fights of my life after everything that's happened. Every fight is a big fight for me but this is one that I'm taking very seriously because, the way I see it, it's a make or break fight. I need to win this fight to get back on the scene again.
"It can put me back on a winning streak and maybe a rematch against Garcia."
Khan, 26, bristles at suggestions he would be staring at retirement should he lose against unfancied Molina (17-0-1, 7KOs). But he concedes yet another defeat would have catastrophic repercussions.
"It would be tough," he said. "It would be very tough. If I get beaten it would put me back to European level. It would put me outside of that world class level.
"I still believe I'm at world class level and in the top 10 in the world but it would push me right back down. It would be tough for me to make it back again because I've worked so hard to get into this position.
"But we don't want to be in that situation and I've not thought about losing.
"I know that as long as I stick to the gameplan and my instructions, then I'm not going to lose this fight.
"I made a lot of mistakes in my previous two fights and I know I said for those fights that 'I'm not going to lose, I'm going to stick to the gameplan' but on those occasions the gameplan went out of the window and I tried to do more.
"In this fight I'm going to just stick to what I know best.
"It's been a maturing experience, big time. I'm a lot more mature now than I've ever been. Having that defeat has only made me a more mature fighter, a better fighter, a more focused fighter."
Molina is understandably a significant betting outsider considering he has mainly campaigned at lightweight and has yet to prove himself at the top level.
However, the Californian is confident he can follow Peterson and Garcia by springing an upset against the high-profile Briton.
"We know Amir doesn't like pressure fighters and whatever way we can make him uncomfortable, that's what we'll do," Molina told Press Association Sport. "So expect an all-out war. We're going to fight in my city, in LA, in the 'hood. So I'm going to make this a street fight.
"He can't come to my 'hood and beat me."