Amir Khan trainer has spotted impressive change before Terence Crawford clashadministrator
Virgil Hunter watched Amir Khan walk into the gym alone, carrying his bag, and smiled to himself.
It may look no big deal, but for Hunter it says tells him everything he needs to know about Khan’s mindset as he prepares to challenge the unbeaten Terence Crawford on Saturday.
It shows him Khan is serious and focused on the huge task ahead of him in New York's iconic Madison Square Garden.
Gone are Khan’s pals, family and hangers-on who used to ferry him to and from training, carrying all his gear for him.
“He used to come with friends and have distractions. But now he’s coming to the gym by himself, carrying his own bag,” said Hunter. “I always say if you carry your own bag, you’re your own person. He’s focused.”
Khan has kept it simple in his preparations for Crawford and has only had his wife Faryal and baby daughter Alayna staying with him in camp. He says self-reliance is important because no-one can help him in the ring.
“Carrying the bag is a symbol,” he said. “There are Olympic and world champions in our gym, walking in and out every day, but we have to be very humble.
“Sometimes when you have a big team, you start relying on people. But when you go in the ring you’re on your own.”
Khan, 32, feels more grounded as he approaches the end of his career and admits becoming a millionaire when he turned professional at 18 made him “cocky”.
He can see now that some people were turned off his king of bling antics on social media and hopes they can see that is not the real him.
“I’ve seen a big change in my attitude,” said Khan. “Maybe five or six years ago, I was a cocky, young kid, who had everything very young.
“Now I look back and wonder why I did certain things, but you can only learn over time. I had a lot when I was young. I had a lot of money because I’d signed a very big boxing deal and having everything I wanted like cars, at such a young age, it can get to you.
“Maybe people didn’t like that I got it so quick, and I think I got a lot of hate for it.
“I was a millionaire when I turned pro at 18. I cannot say it was a bad thing, because it was nice at the time. It took the pressure off because if something had gone seriously wrong then there was a million quid in the bank.
“I loved cars and watches and was suddenly able to afford them. Everyone at that age wants them, but I might have come across as cocky because I wanted to show them off. The perception people got from me was very different. Hopefully I have changed the minds of a lot of people.”
* Amir Khan challenges Terence Crawford for the WBO welterweight belt, live on BT Sport Box Office, on Saturday. For more information, go to www.bt.com/btsportboxoffice