Boxing: Khan predicts a thriller

Amir Khan has confidently predicted his American debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden against Paulie Malignaggi on May 15 will be “electric”.

The WBA light-welterweight title defence is Khan’s first since joining Golden Boy promotions after his split from Frank Warren.

The 23-year-old Bolton boxer – a silver medalist at the Athens Olympics in 2004 – is in no doubt the match-up against Malignaggi, who has rediscovered some form since he was beaten by Ricky Hatton during November 2008, will be a night to remember.

“I will have a real test ahead of me on my American debut at Madison Square Garden, which is the Mecca of boxing,” said Khan, speaking at today’s press conference in London’s Leicester Square to officially announce the fight.

“I have fought there before as an amateur, but to fight there as a professional is a whole different ball game.

“I have a new deal now with Golden Boy Promotions, and they are going to get me the big fights, so I am looking at a bright future.

“I will start working with Freddie Roach at our training camp on Tuesday.

“We have watched a lot of tapes of Paulie, and we really think it is a style we can beat – with my style and his style, it is going to be electric.

“We both have heart and just don’t quit.”

Khan defeated Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in March last year, before stepping up a weight and claiming the WBA light-welterweight crown with victory over Andreas Kotelnik.

He then went on to destroy Dmitriy Salita in just 76 seconds in a mandatory title defence in Newcastle last December.

The British boxer had been expected to face Juan Manuel Marquez, but that fight fell through.

Khan believes he can have a real impact on the American audience.

“I respect Paulie, he has some great fights in the past and has a great record, beaten only by great fighters like Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto – but now there is another fighter coming out who is going to beat him,” said Khan.

“I am confident, so is my trainer, and I just want to put on a great fight for the American fans and for the British fans who will be travelling out to the US with me.

“There is only going to be one winner – I am going to keep this title, it is mine.”

Malignaggi, 29, recently avenged a defeat by Juan Diaz last year to re-establish himself as a world title contender.

The native New Yorker and former IBF champion, though, maintains he is a different boxer to the one turned over by Hatton in Las Vegas, now under a different training and management team.

“I am a much better fighter today then when I fought Ricky Hatton,” he said.

“My career went at a certain path with the team I had around me.

“I have been inconsistent a lot, but there have been shining moments where I have looked tremendously good, and I feel I am getting back to that point now.

“I feel sharp, and with a strong team around me. I am now coming into my own.”

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, won 10 world titles in six different weight classes, claims the May 15 showdown can be the “fight of the year”.

“We are witnessing history in the making,” he declared.

“This event can be the fight of the year.

“We strongly feel Amir Khan can be the next great fighter to come out of England.

“He has a tough challenge in front of him, but we want to prove to the world he can become what we think he can become – that is a great champion.”

While the event will be televised live by HBO in the United States, a deal for British fight fans to watch the bout has not yet been secured.

Khan’s manager Asif Vali said: “We are still in negotiations for a TV deal with a number of broadcasters.

“We are confident and will announce it very soon.”

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