WORLD Boxing Association light welterweight champion Amir Khan insisted yesterday that he would not underestimate his opponent Paul McCloskey on April 16 and admitted relief that he would never meet Ricky Hatton in the ring.
Instead, Hatton will be involved promotionally with Khan for his next fight.
Khan, who had been linked with a potential super-fight with Hatton several times last year, said: "I'm delighted that Ricky Hatton is in my corner as a promoter for this next fight. I felt uncomfortable about talk of me fighting him when he was still active. Ricky has been a role model and a friend to me and fighting him would have been difficult mentally."
Khan will join Manny Pacquiao at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, where he will begin preparing to make the fourth defence of the WBA 140lb title against Derry native McCloskey, the unbeaten European champion, in Manchester.
"I can't afford to underestimate McCloskey, or make mistakes against him. I've made mistakes before and look where it got me," reflected Khan.
"I've watched a few tapes of him and he's heavy-handed. McCloskey will be putting it all on the line, and I've got to be up to the challenge.
McCloskey won the European belt in November 2009 with a ninth-round stoppage of Daniel Rasilla and the 31-year-old defended the title twice last year to take his unbeaten record to 22.
Elsewhere, WBA heavyweight champion David Haye has revealed a shortlist of three fighters for his third defence of the title, expected to be in May, in London. The trio are Ruslan Chagaev, the mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin or Denis Boytsov. (© Daily Telegraph, London)