"King" Khan wants to conquer division as Muslim champion

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britain's WBA super lightweight champion Amir "King" Khan made a smashing U.S. debut at Madison Square Garden, pummelling local favorite Paulie Malignaggi before immediately switching his sights to bigger things.

Having stopped former champion Malignaggi in the 11th round Saturday to retain his crown, Khan said he wanted to reign supreme in the 140-pound division and give Muslims something to cheer about in boxing.

"I have made my debut here, I know how it feels," said Khan, whose dismantling of New York's Malignaggi was his first bout outside of Britain. "It's the best feeling fighting in America. It's a dream come true.

"I'd love to fight in Vegas now and have a big fight there."

Golden Boy Promotions chief Richard Schaefer said plans were to have Khan return home for a bout in July before coming back for another U.S. fight in late autumn.

Khan had a game plan in mind.

"I'd like to fight (Marcos) Maidana next," the 23-year-old Khan said about the hard-hitting Argentine.

Khan outclassed the quick Malignaggi in front of 4,500 fight fans, beating the Brooklynite at his own game.


He used his speed to beat the challenger to the punch and his superior power helped him win every round of the judges' scorecards before the referee stepped in and halted the bout.

Khan overcame some hiccups in his preparation, including the relocation of his training camp to Vancouver after he had difficulty as a Briton of Pakistani descent securing a U.S. visa.

"I know a lot of the Pakistani people and Muslims get a bad name in the States with the bombings and terrorism and stuff but not all of us are like that," Khan told reporters.

"I want to get the Muslim community into boxing like I did in England where you see Asians, Chinese, Pakistanis come out to watch me. I want to do the same in the United States. I think I've got the power to do that.

"I want to fill stadiums and arenas like I do in the UK."

Promoter Schaefer said the sky was the limit for Khan.

"With his charisma and personality he has an opportunity to become an ambassador for the sport and in a way unite people with his fists as odd as that might sound."

(Editing by Ossian Shine)