Amir Khan, left, will face Carlos Molina on Saturday at the Sports Arena. (Nick Ut / Associated Press )
Las Vegas — Amir Khan’s comeback fight Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena will be preceded by boxing’s return to network television.
Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 knockouts), the 24-year-old International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion, will defend his belt for the third time, against Mexico’s Alberto Guevara (16-0, six KOs), in a bout that CBS will televise.
It’s the first time boxing has been on the network in more than 15 years, when Bernard Hopkins knocked out Glen Johnson in the 11th round. The CBS card will open with the professional debut of El Monte’s 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr.
Fight promoter Golden Boy will allow fans in the Sports Arena for free for the Santa Cruz and Diaz fights, and it also is allowing fans to donate a toy valued at more than $20 to receive two free tickets to the nighttime broadcast of Khan’s bout vs. Norwalk’s Carlos Molina televised by Showtime.
The toy drive for tickets begins today at 2 p.m. at the Ponce De Leon Boxing Club, 1929 W. Whittier Blvd., in Montebello, and continues as availability allows at the club at 1 p.m. Tuesday, at the news conference noon Wednesday at the L.A. Live J.W. Marriott, and 2 p.m. Friday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum statue area.
Khan (26-3, 18KOs), Britain’s former junior-welterweight world champion, is fighting for the first time since suffering a fourth-round technical knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July.
Khan, after also losing a split-decision to Lamont Peterson in December, has fired trainer Freddie Roach and hired Virgil Hunter, whose best-known fighter is unbeaten super-middleweight champion Andre Ward.
In Molina (17-0-1, seven knockouts), Khan fights a 27-year-old hopeful of riding a home-arena advantage to a victory.
Khan aspires to get the needed victory, display the strides he’s made under Hunter -- engaging less, out-boxing his foe -- and move on to greater challenges at 140 or 147 pounds, both deep divisions.
The card will also include Mexico’s super-welterweight Alfredo Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs) fighting for the second time in just over a month, against Jorge Silva (19-2-2, 15 KOs).
A holiday fanfest will begin at 3 p.m. at the Sports Arena, with doors reopening at 4 p.m. with the Showtime broadcast starting at 7:30 p.m.
[Updated at 3:08 p.m. An earlier version of this post incorrectly had Alberto Guevara's record listed as 16-6. Guevara's record is 16-0.]
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