Boxing: Khan handed Kotelnik world title fight

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The Independent Online

Amir Khan will fight for a proper world title just months after it looked like his journey from idol to contender to obscurity was over.

Khan, who is still only 22, will meet Ukraine's Andriy Kotelnik for the World Boxing Association light- welterweight championship at the 02 in London on 27 June.

It will be Khan's first fight at light-welterweight, but people close to the boxer have spoken in private of the need for him to gain the five crucial pounds and move from the lightweight division, where he is ranked inside the top 10 of all four recognised sanctioning organisations.

Last September Khan was stopped after only 54 seconds of the opening round at the MEN Arena in Manchester when he met Colombia's Breidis Prescott. In the equally brutal aftermath Khan sacked his trainer, who was his third since the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he won silver, and moved to Los Angeles to work with the outspoken Freddie Roach. No one blamed the loss on the weight-making process, which often requires boxers to lose 30 or even 40 pounds, but Roach has spoken of his need to monitor Khan's weight carefully.

"Amir has shown what type of fighter he is by coming back from the loss," said Frank Warren, the boxer's promoter. "The Kotelnik fight is a tremendous opportunity for Amir and it will be tremendous for the British boxing business."

Khan beat the Irishman Oisin Fagan last December and forced a stoppage because of a badly gashed head against Marco Antonio Barrera last month to complete Warren's carefully plotted journey back to profile and contention. Kotelnik, who is 31 and about three inches shorter than Khan, is not an easy option and has made two defences of his title and lost just twice in 34 fights.