LONDON (Reuters) - Briton Amir Khan's chances of avenging his controversial defeat by American Lamont Peterson improved on Friday when the World Boxing Association (WBA) said it had ordered a re-match.
"I can confirm we have ordered a direct rematch," WBA vice-president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza was quoted as saying by the BBC.
A statement from Khan's U.S. promoters Golden Boy Promotions said the WBA had ordered the rematch within 180 days after examining their appeal.
"I'm pleased that justice has been done and the WBA has ordered an immediate rematch. All we ask as sportsmen is for a fair and level playing field when we compete," Khan said in the statement.
"Lamont Peterson proved in our fight that he is a great competitor and I hope that a second bout will be just as exciting. I want to prove without doubt that I'm the best in the 140lb division by taking care of business in the rematch."
Peterson earned a surprise victory in an enthralling contest in Washington on December 10, taking Khan's WBA super-lightweight and IBF light-welterweight belts on a split decision after the Briton was docked two points.
Khan's team questioned the performance of referee Joseph Cooper who crucially deducted points from the Briton in the seventh and 12th rounds, one for pushing and one for hitting his opponent on the break.
The 25-year-old's camp have also suggested a mystery man had interfered with the judges' scorecards.
Khan posted a number of messages on Twitter last week highlighting footage from the fight in which a man in a black hat can be seen next to WBA supervisor Michael Welsh.
The man then appears to reach across in front of Welsh. The British boxer's camp allege that it was at this point that the man interfered with the scorecards.
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) this week identified the man as Mustafa Ameen, who is not an employee of the body but who assists financially needy boxers.
An IBF hearing on January 18 will decide whether they will also demand a re-match. If they do not, Peterson could choose to relinquish his WBA title rather than agree to fight Khan again.
Last week Khan's promoter said he was confident the IBF would follow the WBA's decision.
"We sure hope that the IBF will follow because that's the least they can do," Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told Sky Sports News.
"The ruling of the WBA to order an immediate rematch should put additional pressures on the IBF."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman and John Mehaffey, editing by Alan Baldwin and Pritha Sarkar)