Amir Khan, the junior welterweight champion, was granted a visa and will be allowed to fight in the United States for the first time next weekend. Khan is scheduled to face Paulie Malignaggi on May 15 in the smaller theatre at Madison Square Garden. Richard Schaefer, of Golden Boy Promotions, said on Friday that he received an e-mail notifying him that Khan's application had been approved.
"Amir is supposedly on his way to LA," said Schaefer. Khan, a former British Olympian whose family is of Pakistani descent, had been training at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for several months on a tourist visa. He needed a work visa in order to fight, though, and went to the British consulate in Vancouver, Canada, last week in hopes of getting the matter resolved. Roach followed the WBA champion to Canada to keep training, but the uncertainty over the visa application caused anxiety for everyone involved in the fight.
Schaefer said he expects Khan to reach New York by tomorrow for a series of publicity events, and everything that had been scheduled for next week will go on as planned. The 22-year-old Khan, who has won 16 of his 22 fights by knockout, signed with Golden Boy in an attempt to raise his profile in the US. He has fought his entire career in Europe, defeating Andriy Kotelnik last autumn in England to win his title and defending it against Dmitriy Salita in December.
He has won four consecutive fights in impressive fashion since his career took a bump with a knockout loss to Breidis Prescott in one of the biggest upsets of 2008. Malignaggi, who has lost three of his 27 bouts, represents his most notable opponenent to date. A former junior welterweight titleholder, he can boast fights against Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. Malignaggi has split his last two fights, losing a close and somewhat controversial decision to Juan Diaz before avenging the loss with a clear unanimous decision in December.
The bout headlines a card that includes the return of Nate Campbell, the former lightweight champion who has been out of action since August. He faces Victor Ortiz, once highly rated. * AP