Dmitriy Salita will take the belt that is "rightfully his" when he faces Briton Amir Khan for the WBA light welterweight title on Saturday, the Ukraine-born boxer said this week. The unbeaten Salita, who moved to New York when he was 9, is the mandatory challenger for champion Khan, who won the crown by beating Ukrainian boxer Andreas Kotelnik in July.
"I should have had the chance at Kotelnik first," Salita told Sky Sports on Tuesday. "Amir is a very good boxer, but I was the number one contender before. Amir has my belt and I've trained very hard to take it and will do whatever is necessary to bring it back home with me."
If he succeeds this weekend, Salita will become the second Orthodox Jewish reigning champion, joining Yuri Foreman who took the WBA super welterweight belt last month in Las Vegas. No religious Jew had held any professional boxing crown in decades prior to Foreman's recent feat.
Khan, a silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics in the lightweight division, has lost only once in 22 fights since turning professional - a devastating first-round knockout against Colombia's Breidis Prescott in September 2008. After beating Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera in March, Khan moved up to light-welterweight and was given the chance to fight for the WBA title against Kotelnik, taking a unanimous points decision after a flawless display.
Salita will be a tough opponent for Khan in Newcastle, having won 31 of his 32 professional fights and drawn the other. "Even if he's ready he's going to have a lot of trouble," the challenger said. "More so if he hasn't taken the fight seriously. I've been around world champions since I was a little kid so I always knew this moment would come. More so than any other fight I know what I'm getting into and I feel calm about it."
Salita added: "Khan's a chinny guy and there's nothing he can do about, it's just the way he's built."
Khan, a Muslim, told British reporters this week that he considered Salita one of the most respectful opponents he has faced and insisted that he did not want outside groups portraying the bout as a Jewish-Muslim clash.