Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com reports today that despite Amir Khan stating publicly that the fight was a done deal, the May 15 bout between the WBA junior welterweight titlist and Paulie Malignaggi has hit a big snag with HBO.
The problem is money, as you'd probably guess any time a fight starts going sour. HBO is simply not willing to pay enough to make Khan-Malignaggi and the co-feature (Nate Campbell-Victor Ortiz) feasible for everyone. Khan's guarantee is what's getting in the way. His deal with Golden Boy calls for a $1 million minimum in American TV money, which is exceptionally high, especially for someone whose American TV exposure is limited to a completely forgettable undercard bout on the Joe Calzaghe-Peter Manfredo show and that small PPV last year with Marco Antonio Barrera, two shows that generated zero buzz or hype in the States.
Any limited value that Khan has to the American public comes from the hardcore boxing fans, who aren't exactly the audience catered to all that often. Khan-Malignaggi is a good fight for both, but Malignaggi is the much bigger star in America, is being counted on to drive the gate, and will be counted on to make this a TV event, too.
Speaking of the gate, while this looked all but sure to be headed to Madison Square Garden (or at least the WaMu Theater at MSG), Reeno says "industry insiders" are now banking on this fight heading to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or another location where the money from the host will be better. They almost have to try for AC if that's the case, since Khan-Malignaggi in Vegas would be a complete dud and I'm assuming everyone involved knows it.
Golden Boy and Khan may be backing themselves into a corner and stunting Khan's ability to become an actual star if that minimum guarantee for TV money keeps getting in the way. If this fight gets made with that guarantee, it'll certainly be an issue again in the future. Khan might want to think of what's best long-term and defer that money, or waive the minimum this time, or do something. If he's going to go through with the move to the States and trying to become an international star, this is the sort of fight he needs.