At 23, and coming off the back of an impressive first-round knock-out of New York’s Dimitry Salita in the first defence of his WBA light-welterweight title, Amir Khan’s career is still on an upward trajectory but the same can’t be said of Ricky Hatton, who was outclassed when he fought Manny Pacquiao last summer.

Although Hatton has yet to confirm if he will climb into the ring again, word is he will and Khan says the thought of not squaring up to the former world light-welterweight champion would leave him feeling unfulfilled.

The lure of world-class domestic battles are usually compelling. Epic encounters such as Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank, Eubank v Joe Calzaghe and Frank Bruno v Lennox Lewis illustrate their attraction but first Khan, the Olympic silver medallist, must overcome a mandatory defence against the unbeaten Argentine, Marcos Maidana, although he admits the name of Hatton is the one he most wants on his cv.

“I would hate to get to the end of my career and look back at it and not have had the chance to fight Ricky Hatton. I still think Ricky has a bit left in him and I think he also has something he wants to prove to himself after the defeat by Pacquiao.

“Obviously, I have a mandatory defence of my WBA title to make and Ricky probably would want a warm-up fight but maybe later in the year it could happen. It would be the type of fight that would be great at an outdoor venue like one of the big football grounds.”

The severity of the beating inflicted on Hatton by Pacquiao was such it is hard to see how the mental scars suffered by the former champion have not left Hatton vulnerable to another painful defeat.

Styles make fights and such has been the improvement in Khan under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, the American trainer, that it is hard to arrive at any other conclusion than Hatton is made for him at this stage of their respective careers.

Khan’s fragile jaw may still be an issue, but first an opponent has to find it and he can deploy his fists with a speed that is second possibly only to Pacquiao, while also having belatedly acquired a tight defence. All this means that the likely conclusion of such a meeting would leave Hatton broken and beaten inside the distance.

But still it is a mouthwatering match and, what’s more, Khan agrees. “I think I would beat Ricky and I also believe that maybe his style is good for me and the way I box. But Ricky is a proud fighter and he would maybe see a fight with me as a great way to go out on a high. We are at different stages in our careers and maybe the timing would be better for me than it would be for him but that is the way it sometimes goes in boxing. Fighters cross each other at different stages in their careers but I think it would make for a great fight.

“I think I would have the edge in reach and speed while Ricky would be looking to cut the space down and get to work on the inside, but I think I could catch him on the way in. But who knows. We have different styles and I think that is what would make it a great fight.”

Of course, Khan had a controversial fight with Scotland’s Willie Limond, in July 2007, when he appeared to be in contact with the canvas for far longer than the permitted 10 seconds in round six before stopping Limond at the end of round eight.

Magnanimous and typically dignified, Khan believes Limond gave him one of his hardest fights and believes the Glaswegian’s courageous performance has had a detrimental effect on his subsequent career.

Khan said: “I feel sorry for Willie Limond, I really do. He gave me a really tough fight in 2007. I found him to be a clever fighter who was very hard to hit cleanly and also very accurate with his own punching.

“He was very good at throwing a punch and not leaving himself open for a counter. I have no idea why he hasn’t had an opportunity to fight for the British title so far, other than that no-one wants to fight him because of all the trouble he gave me.

“If he is going to be nominated for a shot at the British title then it is no more than he deserves and overdue. I have no doubt Willie is good enough to win it and maybe to go on and win a European title. I wish him good luck.”