NEW YORK: Former British Olympian Amir Khan will make his American debut when he takes on ex-junior welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Khan, 22-1 with 16 knockouts, hopes to boost his US fan base with a victory over American veteran Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KOs) in their WBA light-welterweight title fight. Malignaggi though has other plans.
"Everybody is saying this guy is so great, he’s the future, all this," Malignaggi said Wednesday.
"This is the redemption right here, this is what I was waiting for, because nobody thought I would be back in a world championship fight."
Khan signed up with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions earlier this year in a bid to improve his standing among US fight fans.
Khan won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics at age 17. Khan took the WBA crown last July by unanimous decision over Ukrainian Andreas Kotelnik and knocked out American Dmitriy Salita last December in his first title defense.
The two fighters didn’t spare any verbal jabs during Wednesday’s final news conference. The fight in the 5,000 Wamu Theater is not sold out.
"Paulie keeps talking too much, you know, but I’m happy to fight someone like that just to shut them up," Khan said. "I fought a lot of people who talked a lot, and I think he has to be the No. 1 guy who speaks too much."
Malignaggi is hoping to rebound from two losses in his past four fights. The light hitting American has just five knockouts in 30 professional fights.
"These guys were tweeting each other to death," said Malignaggi’s promoter, Lou DiBella.
And the trash talking continued when the two stood face-to-face for photographs as they spent about 90 seconds jawing at each other.
"I can’t wait to beat him, you know, because Pualie needs shutting up and I think I’m the only guy who can shut him up properly," Khan said. "He won’t think about coming back, because I think this is his only last chance he’s ever going to get."
Malignaggi hopes to overcome his lack of knockout power and send one more message to all those people who wrote him off.
"The kid is at his peak right now," said his co-manager, Josh Dubin. "One thing is for sure, Paulie brings it every time. This is his home town, he’ll be defending his home turf. We’re going to have a rocking house on Saturday night."