The latest addition to Team Khan is impressed with the Briton's all-round athleticism and envisages success in the transition to the welterweight division.
Amir Khan is explosive, has extremely fast hands, respectable punching power and is a well-rounded athlete who will no doubt win a world title in the welterweight division to add to the WBA and IBF belts he unified at light welterweight. That is the view of James Ricky Coward, aka Coach Rick, the latest addition into Team Khan and a break-out master of the pads.
Having effectively completed an internship in the art of boxing coaching by the late Oscar Suarez, trainer of British great Prince Naseem Hamed and accomplished super featherweight champion Acelino Freitas, Coach Rick then adapted his training style to include the 'padwork techniques developed by Roger Mayweather'.
He calls it the Mittology System and it: 'Stresses developing a person's rhythm, reflex action, relative hand speed, hand-eye-coordination and agility all while simultaneously building muscle memory.'
Coach Rick's style is already attracting large audiences on his dedicated YouTube channel, he has a strong following on Twitter and, when watching him work, one is reminded of the hypnotic beauty that tends to solely be exclusive to the Mayweather Boxing Club west of the Las Vegas strip in Nevada. Yet Coach Rick seemingly does it with ease no matter whether he is working with Khan or other fighters he has held pads for such as all-time middleweight and light heavyweight great Bernard Hopkins, former Pride and K1 Fighting champ Bob 'The Beast' Sapp and Contender Season 3 boxer; Max Alexander.
Coach Rick, though, is keen to distance himself from the assumption that he is attempting to create Mayweather clones. He said: 'This style of mittwork isn't conducted to make a fighter into Floyd Mayweather, to the contrary, what it does do is develop and enhance a fighter's reflex defense and countering response while keeping a fighters hands, head and feet moving in spots… its an extremely effective training system.'
Following Khan's back-to-back losses suffered against Lamont Peterson (under contentious circumstances) and Danny Garcia, the Bolton wanderer elected to part ways with renowned trainer Freddie Roach (pictured above, with Khan) at the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, LA and enlist fast-rising Virgil Hunter, a cerebral tactician and head coach who had masterminded Andre Ward's rise from accomplished amateur to gold medal Olympian to Super Six World Boxing Classic champion.
With Hunter, Khan is undefeated, with a tenth round TKO victory over Carlos Molina and a unanimous decisioning of Julio Diaz the most recent W's on his ledger. The Diaz victory, though, was not without it's hairy moments as Amir was felled in the fourth but regained his composure to box his way to a points win.
The Golden Boy Promotions-backed boxer is now seeking his next opponent. A December duel with technical welter Devon Alexander had been mooted, with an arena in Dubai a potential venue, however, the American has now been positioned into an IBF defence at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, against a past victim of Khan's, Zab Judah.
It is with a twist of irony that Khan is reportedly a front-runner to win the Mayweather lottery, with multiple news outlets suggesting Amir could face Floyd at the next Cinco de Mayo weekend, in Vegas. Regardless of whether he gets that fight or not, the Mayweather influenced Coach Rick will play a crucial part of Khan's camp.
'I have been hired by Team Khan [and] Virgil Hunter as Amir's padman/assistant coach. Prior to this appointment I had only worked with Amir one time over this past summer [see embedded video below]. With Virgil's approval he came to me in New Jersey for a two to three hour mittwork training session, more or less to see if I would be a good fit for him with my style of mittwork training.
'Things went very well and Amir and Virgil invited me to come out to California for a week so that Virgil could take a look at what I do first hand. Things worked out beautifully and Virgil [and] Amir hired me as an assistant trainer for Amir and also to work with some other of Virgil Hunters other talented fighters.'
So what has Coach Rick observed having now got a first hand experience working alongside Khan?
'Amir has explosive hand speed and is actually a big welterweight. He has the fastest hands of any fighter I have ever worked with and I've held pads for a number of elite amateur and elite professionals… his speed is amazing.
'That same speed carries over into his combination punching. He has fast feet or in other words he has the ability to move in and out very quickly in the ring. His punching power is very respectable in both hands and I think getting him to sit down on his shots will definitely help increase the power on his punches.
'I see Amir as a well rounded athlete, hes a fast runner, swims great, and from what I am observing with him in his strength and conditioning workouts with Tony Brady is that Amir has no quit in him. He will push himself till he has nothing left, and then finds a little more to get through it and that is what champions are made of… its that little something more that they have inside that they can draw from even when it appears that they have nothing left.
'I am proud of his amateur and professional accomplishments to date (an Olympic Sliver Medalist and two times world champion is a lot to be proud of) but he wants more, he is still hungry. He has a top notch team with Virgil Hunter spear heading the charge and Im honored to be a part of his legacy in the sport.'
Considering the pedigree Coach Rick has accrued in what is effectively a short-space of time (he only turned to full-time training in 2007), combined with his personality and training style (he is a teacher), it is easy to see him fitting in with Hunter, with Khan, with Brady. But if there is one thing Amir's welterweight rivals can take away, it's this: 'I believe he will be a world champion again at 147.'
Follow Coach Rick on Twitter @CoachRick23
Follow Amir Khan on Twitter @AmirKingKhan
image: © chamberoffear