- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Although England's Amir Khan lost his last fight, he will walk into the ring for his bout with junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia with a belt of his own.
The WBA on Wednesday announced it has stripped Lamont Peterson and reinstated Khan as its 140-pound "super" titleholder, which means the fight with Garcia on Saturday night (HBO, 11 ET) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas will be to unify Khan's title with Garcia's WBC belt.
"This decision was taken after the positive doping result of the American Lamont Peterson, confirmed by the medical experts," the WBA said in a statement.
Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) lost both of his title belts to Peterson in December via controversial split decision in Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C., but their May 19 rematch was canceled less than two weeks before the fight when Peterson tested positive for the banned substance synthetic testosterone in a random urine test.
Because Peterson admitted that testosterone pellets had been implanted in him shortly before the December fight -- he claims for medical reasons -- and he has delayed a licensing hearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission three times, the WBA made the decision to vacate his belt and reinstate Khan.
Peterson also holds the IBF title, but that organization is awaiting the outcome of his Nevada hearing, which won't take place until August at the earliest.
Khan was happy to have at least one of his belts back, even under the odd circumstances.
"It's thrilling to know that because I think they've seen there was some wrong and they have made the first move," Khan said of the WBA. "I'm glad that the title will be on the line now. It just makes the fight even more exciting and also having two world titles makes the fight even bigger.
"Me and Danny are young fighters. He's 24. I'm 25 and to be in this position fighting a huge fight with so many titles on the line I think is brilliant. We just hope that the IBF may do the same thing, put that title on the line, as well, which will be coming on this unification. I think the WBA made a great choice and I just want to thank them."
Although Peterson fought Khan with a banned substance in his system, his Washington, D.C., commission drug screen was clean after their fight. However, for the rematch, Peterson and Khan agreed to a much more extensive drug-testing protocol -- including random blood and urine testing leading up to the fight -- under the supervision of the private Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. The VADA tests are more sophisticated than those of the Washington commission, which is why the synthetic testosterone showed up in Peterson's drug screen.
Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs), of Philadelphia, will be making the first defense of the vacant belt he won by outpointing Erik Morales on March 24 in Houston. Morales had lost the title on the scale the day before the fight when he failed to make weight.
Marcos Maidana of Argentina remains the WBA's secondary "regular" titleholder in the junior welterweight division.
The WBA is reinstating British boxer Amir Khan as its junior welterweight champion, just in time for a unification bout this weekend in Las Vegas with WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia.