Despite their stated hopes early in the talks for a fight that it wouldn't be marketed using their different faiths, Amir Khan and Dmitriy Salita have had just that happen. From the AFP:
"Throughout history, Jews and Muslims have lived very well together. I think this event will show that," said Salita, whose parents, fleeing anti-Semitic harassment, brought him to the United States from ex-Soviet Ukraine when he was nine.
"Sports is an international language and our fans will be together. I think it's a positive event."
Khan, the 22-year-old son of Pakistani immigrants who took silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, preaches the same message.
"What I love about boxing is that it brings together every culture, race and creed under the sun," Khan told Britain's Sun daily.
"When before could you say that you are going to get the Muslims, the Jewish community and the British together in one place enjoying themselves on a night of world championship boxing?"
I can't blame them, because it's a fairly interesting angle. Neither Khan nor Salita are disrespectful sorts at all, and it was never in any danger of going that route. But the focus on faith was supposedly what they did not want, yet that's been most of the marketing that has gone on. Almost every feature article about the bout has centered on their religious views.
Salita says he's expecting the British Jewish community to come out and support him, and is arranging for plenty of kosher food to be available in Newcastle. Salita remains a massive underdog given that Khan has fought guys with comparable styles and dominated (Andriy Kotelnik being the best of that lot, and probably much better than Salita), but the New Yorker is going over to win.
And really? Not to focus on faith or anything, but could a world title for Salita come at a better time? With Yuri Foreman winning a title at 154 pounds on the Cotto-Pacquiao undercard, the Jewish community may well be paying attention to boxing far more than usual still. Foreman's win drew plenty of press, and Salita is next in line for a major belt.