Amir Khan: Former world champion says he feels more appreciated following retirement

By Kal SajadBBC Sport
'It was quite an easy decision to retire' - Amir Khan

Briton Amir Khan says he always wanted to be "the people's champion" - and feels more appreciated by boxing fans following his retirement.

The former unified world champion and Olympic silver medallist called time on his 17-year career last week.

"The message I'm getting is people now appreciate you a little bit more," said the 35-year-old Khan.

"I didn't ever think that would happen. Maybe you get more respect when you retire than when you're in the sport."

Reflecting on the legacy he leaves behind, Bolton-born Khan added: "I was never scared of a fight.

"I fought the best out there. Win or lose, I gave it my all in every fight. I gave the fights people always wanted."

Content with retirement - but open to exhibitions

Amir Khan and Kell Brook
Amir Khan (left) lost to long-term rival Kell Brook in February

Khan's final bout was a sixth-round knockout loss against rival Kell Brook - who also retired earlier this month - as the former world champions finally settled one of the longest feuds in British boxing history.

"I couldn't leave the sport without the Kell Brook fight because that's what everyone wanted," he added.

Khan's only regret is that it did not happen sooner, but he believes that, despite the defeat, it was a fitting end to an illustrious career.

"It was a little bit late, but it is what it is," he said. "Other than that, I'm happy with how the career has gone. What I have done in the sport and what I have left in the sport.

"A lot of people said you can't go out losing a fight. But I have gone out holding my hand up that I don't have it left in me, honestly.

"The better man won on the night. I'm not going to risk it, going in the fight again. 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.

"If my reflexes are not there I'm not seeing the punches coming to me. I was getting caught with shots that I never really get caught with that easily.

"So I was like maybe it's time for me to call it a day. I just can't do it no more - that's it, man."

Khan would not rule out taking part in exhibition bouts in the future, but said it would depend on the conditions and number of rounds required to fight.

"I can't go into a full training camp again," he added. "My body is beaten up, it's breaking down.

"But for exhibition fights how long do you have to train? Maybe two or three weeks. It's something I may consider, but at the moment I don't want to go into a boxing gym."

'I should have retired after Canelo defeat'

Khan finishes his career with 34 professional wins and six losses, having turned professional in 2005.

One of those defeats came against Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in 2016, when Khan was knocked out in the sixth round, having jumped up two weight divisions to challenge the Mexican for the WBC middleweight title.

"After the Canelo fight I thought I was probably done and I should have probably called it a day then," he said.

"But I didn't. I loved the sport too much that it was hard for me to walk away then."

Khan had considered the possibility of a rematch with Brook, while British contender Conor Benn was also rumoured to be a future opponent. But he says no amount of money will reverse his decision.

"There's nothing that would spark me and I would say, 'yeah, I'll take it'. It was hard for me to stay in the game. I didn't want to be in it, man."

Khan, though, plans to remain in the sport as a promoter and and advising young fighters.

"We set my promotion company up, signing up young fighters, and in America as well I am going to do something big which I'll announce in the next month or so," he added.

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