• Boxing

Khan hits setback after visa delay

ESPN staff
April 30, 2010
Amir Khan is due to fight Paulie Malignaggi on May 15 © Getty Images

Amir Khan's US debut has been thrown into doubt after his application for a work permit was struck by complications.

Khan defends his WBA light-welterweight crown against Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Gardens in New York on May 15, but has been forced to relocate to Canada after a delay to the process, believed to have been caused by Khan's motoring offences in the UK.

"Amir Khan has had to go to Vancouver, and it is due to a few incidents when he was younger, but we are completely confident that he will be in New York to defend his title ahead of the fight with Malignaggi," Golden Boy Promotions' Robert Diaz told The Daily Telegraph.

"Khan is a professional, and he has maintained his focus throughout the events that have taken place. Freddie Roach has gone up to Vancouver because it has taken longer to sort this out than we at first thought."

Should the fight go ahead and Khan successfully defend his crown, an all-British superfight between the former Olympic silver medallist and Kevin Mitchell could be on the cards, with both fighters admitting they would be keen, but claiming the other would not accept the fight.

Mitchell takes to the ring on the same night that Khan makes his US debut, fighting Michael Katsidis for the vacant WBO lightweight title at his beloved Upton Park. But Mitchell, who is still undefeated, believes Khan took the easy option in relocating to Los Angeles and would not accept the challenge.

"I'd want it, but Amir wouldn't - he's been found out," Mitchell told BBC Sport. "Amir Khan knows the score - he's a good boy and a nice boxer but I think everyone knows now in the boxing world what he's about.

"He took Paulie Malignaggi instead of taking on his number one mandatory [Marcos Maidana], so I think the Americans know the score as well. It's been proven, anyone who can half-punch, Khan's vulnerable against and Maidana can proper punch, which is why they are keeping away from him.

"He's got an easier opponent than me [on 15 May], definitely - a non-puncher, someone who doesn't throw many, an old boy and someone who Ricky Hatton beat two years ago. I'm taking on a ferocious, come-forward puncher who's as angry as they come."

However, Khan insisted Frank Warren, who he dumped in favour of Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions in January, would want to protect his star.

"I'd fancy it, but I don't think they would - Mitchell is Frank Warren's golden boy and I think they want to keep it that way," Khan said.

"Frank wouldn't want one of his fighters to get beat by a guy from a different camp. If it did happen, definitely I'd beat him, no doubt about it. He's a good fighter but it would just be a case of hit and move."

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