By Mitch Abramson
Dmitriy Salita is still trying to make up for what went wrong when he failed in his attempt to unseat Amir Khan in his title shot nearly two years ago. Salita’s attorney, Kurt Emhoff, says that Salita has signed a contract with French promoter Bernard Roos to fight WBA interim welterweight champion, Ismael El Massoudi of France, at Madison Square Garden, tentatively scheduled for January.
The fight would give Salita the opportunity to win a world title after he was stopped in 76 seconds by Khan in Newcastle in 2009. A win against El Massoudi would single-handedly revive Salita’s career and go a long way in reconciling what happened against Khan. The only problem is that Matthew Hatton also claims to have a contract to fight El Massoudi next March with the big-picture goal of facing Khan in what would be a huge fight in England.
According to Emhoff, Hatton’s handlers negotiated directly with El Massoudi, who claims to be a promotional free agent. Roos disputes this, saying he has options on El Massoudi, Emhoff said.
“It’s a big mess right now,” Emhoff said. “The WBA is having a convention [in the Ukraine] and we have representatives over there, and we’re trying to get the situation straightened out. If Matthew Hatton had even an interim title it gives them more leverage in the negotiations with Khan. Hatton and Khan is a big fight in England. That’s kind of the motivation for the Hatton people. They pretty much ignored Roos. They really want to get it done. They want to get him a world title. Obviously, [Khan’s promoter] Golden Boy is aware of all this.”
Emhoff is hopeful the WBA resolves the issue over the next couple of days without the presence of lawsuits dragging the parties into court. If that happens, Salita (33-1-1, 17 knockouts) would have to wait to get a chance to redeem himself since the fight with Khan. Salita has won three fights since that fight, and has hooked up with legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward in Detroit and Nirmal Lorick back in New York with an eye toward reviving his career and getting another big fight.
“It’s the big fight that he’s been looking for in his career,” Emhoff said of this latest title shot. “He had a good shot in England but that was pretty rough. But to fight in his home base to have his home crowd behind him [at the Garden] would be massive for his career. Every fighter has a dream of winning a world title, and we’re working hard to make it happen.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.