Amir Khan v Samuel Vargas: Birmingham fight could be key stepping stone for Briton

Amir Khan
Amir Khan is building towards another world-title shot
Khan v Vargas
Date: Saturday, 8 September Venue: Arena Birmingham
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website from 20:30 BST

Samuel Vargas has warned that Amir Khan is "damaged" and "over the hill" as he prepares to hamper the British fighter's dream of another world title.

The pair meet at welterweight in Birmingham on Saturday in Khan's second bout since returning after 23 months.

"I've trained like it's a world title fight as I know where this fight can take me," said Khan, 31.

Khan had to remove his boxer shorts to make the 10st 7lb limit on Friday having been fractionally over.

Vargas - who was born in Colombia but lives and trains in Canada - carries a record of 29 wins, two draws and three defeats, with two of the losses coming against Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr, who both went on to win world titles.

He looks set to offer a stiffer test than the 39 seconds Phil Lo Greco lasted in Khan's comeback bout in April and pointed to the damage the Briton sustained at the hands of Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in May of 2016.

"I know in my heart that he knows that if I touch him he will get hurt," said 29-year-old Vargas, who scaled 10st 6lbs. "There is no doubt in my mind I will be victorious on Saturday night. I don't care how I do it. I think he's an old man, over the hill and he's been damaged a lot."

'Goossen will take me where I want'

Khan will be fighting under trainer Joe Goossen (left) for the second time
Khan will be fighting under trainer Joe Goossen (left) for the second time

The rapid nature of Khan's return win over Lo Greco did not afford much opportunity to see his full repertoire as the former unified world super-lightweight champion took his record to 32 wins and four defeats.

That win was his first under American trainer Joe Goossen but Saturday's Arena Birmingham bout will be the first in which the pair have been together for a full 10-week build-up.

It is also Khan's first bout in the 147lbs welterweight division since 2015 and a win will build momentum towards potential bouts with Manny Pacquiao or British rival Kell Brook.

"The timing was so right to join Joe Goossen," Khan told BBC Sport. "I have worked on so many things. I didn't want him to change my style too much. I still want the speed, style and movement but what he worked on more than anything was accuracy, making sure what I throw lands.

"I really believe he will take me up there where I need to be."

'Khan v Brook at 147lbs' - Hearn

Khan (left) will fight for just the second time since May of 2016
Khan (left) will fight for just the second time since May of 2016

Khan says he will take on Brook at 147lbs and Eddie Hearn - who promotes both men - says Brook now accepts he will need to drop to the weight to secure the long-awaited bout.

"I understand Khan," said Hearn. "He says his best weight is 147lbs and is basically saying if you want to fight me at this weight then fine but if not I will fight someone else.

"That's fine but Kell would need to start training now because of the weight loss and he may need a 16-week camp.

"This Vargas test is the last hurdle before Khan is back into the super fights really. When Vargas fought Errol Spence, he had three weeks to prepare.

"He's had 10 weeks here and so I want Amir to have rounds, test those hands out and test what he's learning with Joe Goossen.

"Amir Khan unified the light-welterweight division and I think has a lot left.

"When you start achieving in British sport, it's sometimes like the public rebel a bit. Khan gets a lot of stick but how many fighters would like to have the resume of Amir Khan?"

Analysis - 'A key stepping stone'

Khan v Vargas: Amir Khan targets another 'dream' world title

BBC Radio 5 live boxing analyst Steve Bunce:

Khan v Brook would be in my top three fights to be made this year.

There is no doubt Khan has rediscovered something. There's something in his eyes. He's not talking about facing champions like Terence Crawford or Errol Spence yet but with a win or two, he could have those fights.

Then there's the Manny Pacquiao fight, a fight he thought he had made a few years ago. There's some bad blood between them through sparring.