Amir Khan was ready to step up, and use Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez as a steppingstone to a higher profile status here in the States. But Team Marquez wasn't as keen on that steppingstone scenario, so the Khan crew has reached out and tapped a replacement for a proposed May 15 date: Paulie Malignaggi.

Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KOs) confirmed to TSS that it's looking like May 15 is a go.

He's waiting on some concrete contractual terms to come in Thursday, after HBO communicates their numbers to Khan (22-1 with 16 KOs) and his promoter, Golden Boy.

“I think we should be a go unless the offer is brutal,” said Malignaggi, the 29-year-old New Yorker who elevated himself with a loss (to Juan Diaz on Sept. 22, 2009) more than any fighter in recent memory. The former IBF 140 pound champion is coming off a win over Diaz in a December rematch, which he secured with a potent social networking campaign that played up the controversial nature of the September decision defeat in Texas.

The 23-year-old Brit Khan holds the WBA junior welter crown. He beat Andriy Kotelnik last July to take hold of the vacant strap and blew out Dmitriy Salita (TKO1) of NY in his first defense, on Dec. 5. Khan was looking forward to adding the scalp of another Mexican god of pugilism,  Marquez,  to the collection started when he stopped Marco Antonio Barrera on a cut last March.

TSS U, weigh in.

Certainly Malignaggi's presence will mean a much livelier pre-fight hypeathon. Khan has already promised his Facebook friends that he will knock out Malignaggi. “I'll show him who the CON is,” Amir said, a reference to some back and forth trashtalking that has already gone down between the scrappers.

Could Paulie's slick boxing prove a stiffer test to Khan than Marquez, a less mobile but heavier handed foe?