Former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan, in search of a new opponent after titleholder Lamont Peterson tested positive for the banned substance synthetic testosterone and their May 19 fight was canceled, has one: 140-pound titleholder Danny Garcia.
Khan and Garcia will meet July 14 in the main event of an HBO "World Championship Boxing" doubleheader, Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, who promotes Khan and Garcia, told ESPN.com on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Schaefer said he finalized a deal for the bout to take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
"You have two young guys, two of the best in the division," Schaefer said. "Danny Garcia is undefeated and a champion and Amir Khan is one of the biggest names in the sport, so I am really excited about this fight and lucky we were to be able to put it together considering what happened (with Peterson)."
Schaefer said heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell (25-0, 19 KOs) of Brandywine, Md., will open the HBO telecast. He could face Detroit's Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs), a former cruiserweight title challenger who has been at heavyweight since 2009 and gone 8-0-1 in the weight class. Mitchell thrilled the Atlantic City, N.J., crowd when he stopped Chazz Witherspoon in the third round of an April 28 brawl at Boardwalk Hall on the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins II undercard.
Khan was due to meet Peterson last Saturday in Las Vegas in a much-anticipated rematch of their December slugfest in Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C. Peterson won a controversial split decision and two world title belts, but the sequel was canceled on May 9 when his "B" sample from a March 19 random urine test came back positive for synthetic testosterone. Peterson claimed he had been injected with testosterone pellets by his doctor prior to the December bout because of a medical condition.
Whatever the reason Peterson took the testosterone, it is a banned substance and the fight was called off. While Peterson's case will be heard by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in mid-June, Golden Boy quickly went to work. It got HBO to agree to move Khan into July and then began to talk to Garcia manager Al Haymon about making the fight.
Garcia claimed a vacant world title on March 24 by dropping Mexican star Erik Morales in the 11th round en route to a unanimous decision in Houston. Morales had been stripped of the belt the previous day for failing to make weight.
Now Garcia, of Philadelphia, will go from facing an aging legend to a prime Khan and he is excited about it.
"I feel like this is how its supposed to be -- the best versus the best, both of us in our prime and giving the fans a great fight," Garcia told ESPN.com. "I'm just happy. Its going to be a great fight and I feel like I have what it takes to beat this guy."
Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs), 24, said as soon as Peterson was dropped from the fight with Khan (26-2, 18 KOs), 25, Golden Boy contacted him about the possibility of the fight. Even though he had just fought, Garcia said he immediately began training.
"When I heard about the possibility I strapped on my shoes and went out running. I want to be ready," Garcia said. "I believe everything happens for a reason. I guess that (Peterson-Khan II) wasn't meant to be. I feel like Khan and me are young fighters taking it back to the old days when the best mixed it up with the best.
"I've watched Khan a lot. He's a good fighter, but I don't think he's what people say he is, getting all this credit. I'll expose all that stuff July 14. I know I'm going to win this fight. I feel like he will leave himself open for some big shots and we'll see if he can take them. I can box and I can punch. I'm going to hit him with stuff he won't see. I can't wait."
It is unclear what titles, if any, will be on the line between Garcia and Khan. Garcia has a WBC mandatory defense due against Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KOs). Golden Boy is trying to have the result of the Peterson-Khan fight from December overturned to a no decision and the WBA and IBF belts returned to Khan. The reason is because Peterson admitted that the synthetic testosterone that he tested positive for had been implanted in him prior to the fight with Khan. Golden Boy's argument is that Peterson fought Khan, of England, with a banned substance in his system, although the post-fight urine test conducted by the Washington commission came up negative, likely because it is less sophisticated than those conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which was overseeing the testing program for the rematch.
If Khan is given one or both belts back, the WBC would sanction Garcia-Khan because unification bouts take precedence over mandatory fights, Schaefer said.
"In a perfect world, we hope that this fight will be for all three belts," Schaefer said.
Said Garcia, "I don't know what's going to happen with the belts. I'm just a fighter. But whatever the case is it will be a great fight. It's all about giving the fans a great fight."