Monday, November 29, 1999

Khan announces arrival in America with a knockout

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The boxer Amir Khan spent late April and early May in Vancouver, British Columbia, his entry into the United States delayed while he obtained a work visa. By Saturday, Khan had gone to work here for the first time, and his opponent, Paulie Malignaggi, wished the stopover had been longer.Khan justified the hype he brought with him from England. He punished Malignaggi at the outset and pummelled him throughout, registering a technical knockout 1 minute 25 seconds into the 11th round.In a one-sided triumph that was nearly stopped earlier, Khan retained his World Boxing Association super lightweight title in front of 4,412 at Madison Square Garden's smaller theater. Afterward, he said he planned to remain in that division until he could unify the belts, and that he will fight in England in July."I was just amazed," said Richard Schaefer, the chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions. "The speed. The combinations. The power. He's the total package."Khan (23-1, 17 knockouts) landed more jabs, more power punches and more total punches (259 to 127). He won every round and forced Malignaggi (27-4) to deliver an opinion opposite from all the criticism he levied across an ocean the past few months.Malignaggi took questions with a swollen left eye and bruised face. He said that of the four fighters he has lost to, he considered two, Khan and Miguel Cotto, to be truly elite - high praise for Khan, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics and does not turn 24 until December.Playing the aggressorKhan dictated the pace in the early rounds, stalking Malignaggi, throwing punches with more potency and frequency. In the second round, Khan landed a four-punch combination that sent Malignaggi backward, and by the middle of the next round, Malignaggi's left eye appeared swollen.The fight continued in that vein, with the man nicknamed King Khan playing the aggressor. In the fourth round, Khan ducked, then bounced Malignaggi's head backward with a powerful right hand.Khan brutalised Malignaggi repeatedly with that hand, with jabs and overhand rights and straight rights, until every round seemed almost exactly like the one before. When Malignaggi adjusted in Round 7, Khan smacked him repeatedly with the left.Soon after, doctors checked on Malignaggi between rounds. He begged to go back out for No. 11. The referee stopped it halfway through."We had to break him down slowly," Khan said. "From Round 9, I knew I wasn't letting him off. I had to keep the pressure on him."It was Khan's debut in the United States, where he is somewhat unknown. Khan's low profile here stands in stark contrast to his celebrity status in England. Khan's only loss came by knockout at the bruising hands of Breidis Prescott. After that defeat, Khan hired Freddie Roach, perhaps boxing's best trainer, who steered Manny Pacquiao toward greatness. Still, questions lingered."I'm sure Khan's good," Malignaggi said on Wednesday. "But he's unproven at a high level. He hasn't got one major victory on his record. They handed him a world title, after he got knocked out."Malignaggi said this fight represented redemption. But he also knew the brutal truth: another loss, and even his promoter said fights of this magnitude would likely be out of reach. NYT

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