Monday May 17th, 2010

NEW YORK -- It wasn't enough for Freddie Roach that Amir Khan beat, batter and unequivocally outbox Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night. Roach wanted more. So when Khan settled onto his stool after the 10th round, comfortably ahead on the judge's scorecards, Roach delivered a message to his young pupil.

"He said, 'Send a statement to the world,' Khan said. "Go out and finish this guy off."

Khan did, bombarding Malignaggi with a flurry of punches until referee Steve Smoger mercifully stepped in, punctuating Khan's triumphant debut on U.S. soil.

Khan's victory brought a measure of clarity to a deep and talented 140-pound division. Four men -- Khan, Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley -- have staked their claim to the status of the division's top fighter. And all four are now in a position to face each other in a makeshift tournament bankrolled by HBO, which has made a similar financial commitment to the junior welterweight division that Showtime has made to super middleweight.

Though a Maidana-Bradley matchup was recently scrapped due to Maidana's back injury, the "tournament" shouldn't experience any bumps in the road. Team Khan's first choice for an opponent was Maidana anyway, in part because Khan has been accused of ducking the heavy-handed Argentinean and in part because they believe Khan can easily outbox him.

[Maidana's] boxing ability sucks," said Roach. "The guy [Andriy] Kotelnik beat him and we beat Kotelnik 12-0 [on one judge's card]. Maidana's a puncher. That's it."

"A lot of people think I was avoiding Maidana," Khan said. "Malignaggi was a bigger fight for me. If the big guys want to fight me, line up. I'd like to face Maidana next to send a statement."

With Maidana and Khan both under the promotional umbrella of Golden Boy, that fight shouldn't be difficult to make. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said Khan would like to fight in July in the U.K., possibly against 135-pound titleholder Michael Katsidis. After that he will be unavailable due to Ramadan -- which begins August 11 -- but will be ready for a fight with Maidana in the fall.

Both Bradley and Alexander are amenable to this final four format. Bradley's promoter, Gary Shaw, says he hopes to keep the July 17 date that was supposed to go to Bradley and Maidana on HBO and against a different opponent. And HBO has already committed to showing Alexander's next fight on July 7. Alexander's trainer/manager, Kevin Cunningham, told that they would like to fill that slot with either Kotelnik or Breidis Prescott, who handed Khan his lone defeat in 2008.

"Khan said he wants Maidana. They can fight each other and let us fight one of the guys that beat them," Cunningham said. "Kotelnik is a former world champion. Prescott is a very dangerous puncher. You saw what happened to Khan when he fought him. If things were to go the way we want them to we would fight Kotelnik or Prescott in August, Tim Bradley in the fall and then come back and fight the Khan/Maidana winner in the spring."

There is a potential foil in this dream scenario: Don King. King, who promotes Alexander, lately has appeared more interested in stopping fights -- he got a court order halting Ricardo Mayorga's MMA debut last weekend -- than making them. Several industry insiders believe Alexander has not been involved in enough high-profile fights and that King, whose influence in boxing has faded in recent years, is partly to blame.

Hopefully, all the parties involved will get on the same page -- quickly. The 140-pound division has the fighters and the fighters want to fight. It doesn't get much clearer than that.


• Malignaggi's promoter, Lou DiBella, told that he expects Malignaggi to seriously consider retirement.

"Paulie never was in this game to be an opponent," DiBella said. "That's not what he wants to be. I think he saw that he doesn't have the same quickness he had three years ago.

DiBella said he would like to see Malignaggi get into broadcasting. He said he planned on using Malignaggi as an analyst for his Broadway Boxing cards and suggested Malignaggi could be a good fit for HBO's vacant seat on its Boxing After Dark shows.

"If he wants to do that kind of stuff, he has to walk away before his brains are scrambled," DiBella said. "He loves boxing. I think he's bright enough and still has enough going for him that he will not overstay his welcome to great danger."

• Schaefer told that he was moving forward with talks about a possible Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe rematch. Calzaghe is expected to come out of retirement sometime this year and Hopkins, who sat next to Schaefer at the Khan-Malignaggi fight, has indicated that he wanted that fight.

• If Khan does decide to fight in July, Schaefer said he would explore adding Khan's fight to the July 31 card featuring the rematch between Juan Diaz and Juan Manuel Marquez. The show would be a split-site doubleheader from Las Vegas and London.

• Middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs, who knocked out Juan Astorga in the second round on Saturday's undercard, may be ready for a title shot, Schaefer told An industry source said a Jacobs-Sergio Martinez fight was not likely but that Jacobs could challenge IBF titleholder Sebastian Sylvester or WBA champion Felix Sturm.

• Speaking of Martinez, the reigning WBC/WBO middleweight champion could be headed for a showdown with former champion Winky Wright. Martinez is expected to wait until Floyd Mayweather decides who he will fight next; but DiBella, who promotes Martinez, and Schaefer, who represents Wright, discussed the possibility of a Wright-Martinez fight last week.

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