The war of words between Amir Khan and Paulie Malignaggi developed into chaos at the weigh-in today ahead of their WBA light-welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden.
Champion Khan and New York challenger Malignaggi had weighed in amid noisy scenes as a group of the Englishman’s fans chanted their hero’s name and booed the American.
And when the two fighters went head to head for pictures, they touched heads and were seen arguing before they began pushing each other.
No punches were thrown by the protagonists but chaos erupted as others became involved and the stage filled with people.
Both fighters were pulled from the scene, leaving through separate exits, Khan’s camp leaving without comment.
Malignaggi’s promoter Lou DiBella , however, was clearly furious at the incident and stormed around the room at the Essex House hotel in Manhattan.
“This is amateur,” DiBella screamed. “The public was not supposed to be here.
“One more thing like this and I’m pulling (Malignaggi) out of the fight.
“My guy got roughed up by his people. Some gentleman. Go back to England.”
Malignaggi weighted in at 139lb, with Khan just half an ounce heavier.
Khan is set to defend his title in the early hours of Sunday morning having already said he wanted to make Malignaggi pay for his accusations of doping in trainer Freddie Roach’s camp.
Khan, 23, is set for his American debut in New York against Brooklyn’s former IBF world champion and there had already been a furious war of words conducted during the course of the big-fight build-up.
Khan said he felt the trash-talking Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KOs) had crossed a line when he questioned Wild Card Gym stable-mate Manny Pacquiao’s reluctance to agree to blood testing ahead of any potential fight with Floyd Mayweather.
“He was saying I was on drugs as well and how big I had gone but working with Alex Ariza (Roach’s fitness and nutrition expert) and looking at how my body’s changed, to be honest I’ve gone a lot slimmer,” Khan said.
“I was a big, big lightweight and I’ve trimmed down and made my legs bigger.
“What people like Paulie Malignaggi don’t realise is the work ethic and the training that me and Manny put into our work. We work so hard and it just disrespects the trainers because they help us so much, push us 110% and do a wonderful job with us.”
Khan (22-1, 16 KOs) believes the hard work he has put in under both Roach and Ariza has transformed his career after he left his home town of Bolton to train at the Wild Card in Los Angeles following the only defeat of his professional career, a one-punch, first-round knockout by Breidis Prescott in 2008.
“Since I’ve been in the Wild Card Gym with Freddie and Alex I think I’ve come on so much both mentally and physically: using my brain, using my skills instead of just jumping in using my heart,” he said.
“The heart’s there when I need to dig deep but instead of just going in there not using my brain – I used to get caught with stupid shots – but now, I’m in there using my brain, picking the right shots at the right time and it’s made a massive difference in my style.
“And when we put it all together and we spar I see the differences from before.
“I had the skills, I just needed someone to bring it out of me and to give me the confidence; to say ’look, use your brain instead of using your speed, your power. Rely on your boxing skills’. And that’s what I’ve done.
“Now I have my boxing skills and my speed and power.”
He praised Ariza and Roach for putting him straight on the importance of making weight in a proper manner.
“I used to eat what I want, on a junk diet and used to think I could make my weight easy and kill myself over the last four or five days.
“But now I do it professionally. I work my way down and Freddie is always on my case or Alex’s case, ’what’s Amir’s weight now?’
“They work together and I make the weight easily and I feel so much stronger.”
Khan promised to beat Malignaggi in style and join Ricky Hatton as the only fighters to have stopped the 29-year-old American.
He said: “If you look at his last few fights, even the guys that have beaten him, I don’t think anyone’s beaten him in the style which I’m going to beat him.
“I want to do a good job on him.
“We’ve got a gameplan to take into the fight, we’ll stick to it and see how he copes with that gameplan. I’ll listen to instructions from Freddie and it’s a gameplan to stop him and if it’s early, it’s early but I know for a fact it won’t go the full distance.
“I’m definitely going to win but not only win, win in a good style.”