Amir Khan is Bolton born and bred, but when it comes time for him to name his Greatest Hits, the Brit picked three fights that happened in the United States. From one boxing capital in New York to the other in Las Vegas, Khan charts first his conquest (fine, Khanquest) of America and then, inevitably, to his ascension as one of the biggest stars of the sport.
3 vs. Paulie Malignaggi, May 15, 2010, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York
It’s a classic immigrant story. A young lad builds up a 22-1 record, then seeks his fortune in the New World.
When Amir Khan made his American debut, he did it right in one of the biggest boxing cities in the country, at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theater.
From the get-go, Khan wasn’t intimidated by fighting Malignaggi not only in his home country, but his home city. He faced down the slick-boxing Malignaggi, landing enough crisp shots that referee Steve Smoger stopped it in the 11th round.
“I like that fight because it was against a former world champion who went on to win world titles afterward as well, and I was fighting him in his own backyard where he had a lot of support,” Khan said. “It was a good fight for me to come to America, to show the American fight fans how good Amir Khan was by stopping him in Round 11.”
2 vs. Devon Alexander, December 13, 2014, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas
Khan was a whirlwind whom Devon Alexander had no answers for last year in Las Vegas, in Khan’s second straight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It’s a venue that stands with Madison Square Garden as the most important in the game right now.
“My dream was not only to fight in Vegas but to fight in the best arena in Vegas, which is the MGM,” Khan said. “The biggest names in boxing have fought there. It kind of made me that star, what I was always wanting to be.”
The fight was all the Khan show that night. He won a unanimous 12-round decision over Alexander, including a shutout on one of the three judges' scorecards.
“The fight was all about sticking to the game plan and not making any mistakes,” Khan said. "You can get carried away having a lot of fans around you and fighting on the biggest stage of boxing. It can make you freeze. But I just stayed calm and soaked up the atmosphere in a good way, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
1 vs. Marcos Maidana, December 11, 2010, at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas
After stopping Malignaggi, Khan still had plenty of work to do to cement his status in America. Enter Marcos Maidana and Khan’s first foray into Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay. In 2010, Maidana was knocking everyone out. Only three of his 30 fights had went to the judges.
But Khan handled his business, including a vicious left to the body that dropped Maidana, en route to a close win, albeit by unanimous decision. It didn’t hurt that he got to win on the big stage and see those Vegas lights for the first time.
“That was a make-or-break fight for me, to give me that big moment in America. That was a good fight to show the world who Amir Khan was,” he said. “It was a massive fight. Topping the bill there, too, against Maidana who was a big name. I saw billboards and I saw my picture there in Vegas. It made me really happy because it was something I had always dreamt of.”
Don't miss the action of Khan vs Algieri, live on Spike TV on Friday night.