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Amir Khan targets debut success in America in 2010

Amir Khan celebrates
Khan celebrates after his 76-second victory over Salita

By Nabil Hassan
BBC Sport in Newcastle

Britain's WBA world light-welterweight champion Amir Khan says he intends to fight in the United States for the first time in 2010.

Khan defended his title with a stunning 76-second defeat over Ukrainian Dmitriy Salita in Newcastle on Saturday.

"After the reception I got in Newcastle it will be hard to leave England but next year will be a good time to fight in the States," Khan told BBC Sport.

"Hopefully we can go and shock the world when we go to America."

The 22-year-old is currently based in Los Angeles since teaming up with trainer Freddie Roach last year.

And the Bolton fighter says the time has now come to fulfil a life-long dream and box in the United States.

"Everyone at the gym in LA are always asking me when I'm going to fight in the US and I keep on saying, "soon"," admitted Khan.

"I've been saying it for so long that they've stopped asking me, but it's always been my dream to fight in Las Vegas."

But while Khan is certain that he wants to fight in the States, he is not so sure of who he will fight next.

Khan, who now has 22 victories from 23 fights, says he intends to sit down after Christmas with promoter Frank Warren and trainer Freddie Roach to discuss his options.

"I'm sure I've sent a message out," said Khan.

"You want to fight the best and we'll sit down and see what fights are out there for me."

Roach was more forthcoming, revealing Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez and American duo Luis Castillo and Zab Judah as possible options, with Britain's Ricky Hatton also a potential opponent.

However, speaking on BBC 5 live's Sportsweek, Warren dismissed Hatton as a potential opponent for Khan.

"I don't feel Ricky Hatton should fight any more," said Warren. "It's crazy, you've only got to look at the size of him. Maybe he could get himself down to the weight, but one thing's for sure, his reflexes and his legs are gone.

"He's not the same fighter he was. He won't be able to get out of the way and I don't think it'll be the next fight anyway. For Ricky to be able to fight it would take him about six or seven months to get himself into some shape."

Warren also believes that any suggestion of a potential match-up between Khan and five-weight, five-time world champion Manny Pacquiao are, for the time being at least, wide of the mark.

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Khan has previously stated it is unlikely that he will ever fight Pacquiao, who is also trained by Roach and with whom the Bolton fighter has sparred, and Warren added: "They're professional fighters and maybe a couple of years down the road if Manny Pacquiao's still around, it may be a fight that takes place."

Warren, though, agrees that it is only a matter of time before Khan will fight in front of an American audience.

"Of course he will go and fight in the States," Warren told BBC Sport.

"What fighter doesn't want to go over to America and fight at Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas?"

The spectacular nature of Khan's victory over the previously unbeaten Salita surprised even the boxer himself, with the Bolton man admitting he had not expected it to be over so quickly.

"It happened quicker than I thought it would," said Khan.

"We've been working a lot on the left jab, right hook combination and making it powerful and I thought I'd knock him out but not that soon."

Roach even joked that he missed the first knockdown (which happened inside 10 seconds) with the American saying he was still walking down the ring steps when Salita went flying to the canvas.

Two more knockdowns followed and Salita's dream of stealing Khan's WBA title was over.

The Ukrainian-born, American-based 27-year-old cut a sorry figure in the post-fight press conference, admitting he was completely overwhelmed by Khan's speed.

"He started fast, faster than most of the people I've faced and caught me early with a couple of good shots," Salita told BBC Sport.

"I really didn't have an opportunity to get going. He has very quick hands and I didn't see the punches coming."

Khan added: "I didn't go in trying to win the fight in the first round, it just happened.

"You don't get paid for overtime and if you can win a fight in the first round then you have to do it."

Khan's next fight will be likely be in spring with the Bolton fighter just pleased to end what has been a fine year on a high.

"To finish the year off with a good performance and with the title is fantastic," added Khan.



see also
Roach holds key to Khan future
06 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Ruthless Khan demolishes Salita
05 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Classy Mitchell sees off Prescott
05 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Gavin forced to work hard for win
05 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Khan father rejects bigotry claim
05 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Khan is vulnerable, says Salita
24 Nov 09 |  Boxing
Khan rules out Pacquiao meeting
19 Nov 09 |  Boxing
Khan would fight 'friend' Hatton
19 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Emphatic Khan claims world title
18 Jul 09 |  Boxing


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