When welterweight Amir Khan made his return to the ring following a 23-month layoff on April 21, it amounted only to a cameo appearance, as the former unified junior welterweight world titleholder needed just one right hand, a quick flurry and 39 seconds to drill Phil Lo Greco.
England's Khan, who is on the comeback trail following a harrowing sixth-round knockout loss while challenging then-middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez in May 2016, is training with Joe Goossen in Southern California in preparation for his fight with Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
The 31-year-old Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) is planning for another knockout victory in an effort to move closer to another major fight.
"Fans will see another explosive performance on Sept. 8," said Khan on Monday. "I didn't get a chance to show everyone what I had been working on during my time out against Lo Greco, but you saw the punch power, accuracy, speed and timing, and you'll see it again against Vargas. I always make it exciting. It's going to be another big bang.
"Vargas is another step and move in the right direction. This will take me on to the bigger and better fights, and that's with no disrespect to Sammy. He's going to come to win; he knows by beating me it propels him on to a whole new level. It's one of them fights I have to be very smart in. I need to win and also look good doing so. There's big fights in the pipeline, but I can't afford to look that far ahead; Vargas has my full attention."
With a win, Khan could find himself in the running for a big-time bout at the end of the year, perhaps against Manny Pacquiao, a fight Khan has pined for for years, or longtime British rival Kell Brook, with whom he shares promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.
Khan is a heavy favorite to defeat Vargas (29-3-2, 14 KOs), 29, a Colombia native fighting out of Toronto who got knocked out in his two fights against top opponents in Danny Garcia (seven rounds) and Errol Spence Jr. (four rounds). Vargas also is coming off a 10-round draw with little-known Mauro Godoy in June.
"Vargas is a tough and well-schooled fighter, but if he wants to fight on the inside, I'll be more than ready for it," Khan said. "He has shared the ring with some top welterweights, including Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr. We're going to be prepared for whatever he brings. I'm a totally different fighter now to the old Amir Khan."
When Khan made his return in April, he trained with Goossen because trainer Virgil Hunter was ill and unavailable to work with him for the fight. Although Hunter is back on his feet, Khan elected to remain with Goossen.
"The bond is growing with Joe," Khan said. "We've had much more time to work on things in this camp. We've been improving what Joe sees as my strengths and also the mistakes I can make in a fight, so we're building to become the full package. Last time, we just really set the game plan, given the short notice we had together; but for this one, we've had the full camp behind us.
"Camp has been very hard. It's so hot out here, so making weight is not a problem. But training in this temperature is difficult. We spar 10 to 12 rounds with 30-second breaks, with high-intensity training around it -- so come fight night, I'll be more than ready."