Amir Khan has confirmed he hopes to make his US debut against Paulie Malignaggi at New York’s Madison Square Gardens on May 15.
Rumours of Khan’s next opponent have been rife since he joined forces with American promoters Golden Boy last month, with Marcos Maidana – the mandatory challenger for his WBA light-welterweight title – and Juan Manuel Marquez mooted as potential candidates.
But having already made one mandatory defence with a 76-second stoppage against Dmitriy Salita in December, Khan was looking to take on a bigger name than Maidana for his first bout in the States and with Marquez believed to have rejected an offer to fight yesterday, the 23-year-old has now turned his attention towards Malignaggi.
“May 15 is the date that I have, the fight will be in America, and opponent - we are looking at Malignaggi,” Khan told Press Association Sport.
“We were looking at Marquez, who pulled out, so it’s Malignaggi up to now and we want to hear what he thinks about the fight. Golden Boy have put the fight to his promoter Lou DiBella, so we will see where we go from here.
“I want to fight him in his home town (New York) and beat him in his home town in front of his own people.
“The fight has not been made 100% yet but I think there is a very good chance of it happening. When it does happen, I’m just going to go in there and do what I normally do and I really think Malignaggi has a style which is going to make me look good.
“He’s not at my level. He has a few good wins in America, but it’s another fight for me and I’ll go there and do what I have to do.”
Talk of a fight between Khan and Malignaggi – who was beaten by Ricky Hatton in 2008 – has grown over the last few days after the two fighters became embroiled in an apparent war of words online via Twitter, although the Bolton fighter admits he prefers to square up face to face.
He said: “I’m new on Twitter. A friend was looking after it at first until I took over. My image is not talking trash – I let my fists do all the talking.
“My friend was fighting back with him (Malignaggi), so I took over the whole Twitter account about a week ago and you can see that it is different.”
Khan insisted he was avoiding nobody and revealed there were several names on his hitlist as he aims to make a splash in the US.
“Marcos Maidana was the mandatory, but the WBA have said that because it would be two mandatories back to back, they can’t really do that, so they have not put that as a mandatory fight,” Khan said.
“If I was going to fight someone in America I wanted to fight a big name as my debut, so if I fought Maidana, people would have said it’s not the right way to come to America, it’s not the right entrance. I would beat him, but I still wouldn’t have the recognition.
“So I wanted to fight Marquez, who is a tougher opponent, a bigger name who just fought against Floyd Mayweather Jr and lost in 12 rounds. But Marquez refused yesterday, so now the ball is in my court.
“It’s quite hard because after knocking out Salita, people now recognise me as a tough world champion. There are a few names I want to fight (including) Malignaggi in New York City at Madison Square Gardens.
“Also there’s fighters like Nate Campbell, Victor Ortiz, maybe even Maidana when he gets a bit of a bigger name. This game is all about business and it’s about making the right fights at the right time.”
Khan’s change of promoters has also added fuel to speculation that an all-British super-fight with Hatton – who is promoted by Golden Boy in the US - could be on the cards later this year.
Hatton, who many expected to retire after being knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in May, announced his intention to return to the ring last month, and although he feels the ’Hitman’ may have made the wrong decision, Khan is ready to take the fight if an offer is made.
“I get a lot of questions from people asking when I am going to fight Ricky Hatton,” Khan said.
“Ricky is a friend of mine and if it was on the table, I’m one of those fighters who would grab it, I’d take the fight.
“But I really think that if I was Ricky Hatton, I’d call it a day. He has made his name in British boxing, so he should just relax.
“But if he wants to fight back, then Amir Khan is here as a world champion and I think it would be a big fight for British boxing.”