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Pacquiao needs Khan or Crawford wins to get Mayweather, says Merchant

Manny PacquiaoBy Chris Williams: Former HBO analyst Larry Merchant thinks that Filipino Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) needs a big win over either Amir “King” Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) or unbeaten WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs) in other to get a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and to regain the interest from the boxing fans.

Pacquiao was beaten in his last fight by Mayweather, so he’s kind of starting over with his career for the second time in the last three years. Merchant thinks that Pacquiao was matched against the right type of opponents to rebuild his career following his 6th round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012.

Pacquiao doesn’t have time to face similar opposition to rebuild his career this time. He needs to face a really good fighter in Khan or Crawford, and show the world that he can beat one or both of those fighters in order to lure Mayweather out of retirement to fight him.

If Merchant gets his way, he would prefer that Pacquiao fight the unbeaten Crawford because he feels that would be a fight that would either prove that Pacquiao is still an elite fighter, or it would show the boxing world how good Crawford is.

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“I think an Amir Khan-Pacquiao fight makes sense in a sense that it’s where the big bucks are,” Merchant said to Fighthype. “Amir Khan is a big draw. It would be a huge event in Britain. It would be a lot of pay-per-views, and then the winner fights Floyd. I’d want Pacquiao to fight Crawford and see what happens. If Pacquiao can beat a terrific young fighter like Crawford, then he’s earned a rematch. But then it becomes a platform for everyone to know how good Crawford is,” Merchant said.

I’m sure Pacquiao’s 83-year-old promoter Bob Arum would be happy to know that Merchant is endorsing Crawford as an opponent for Pacquiao to fight because it’s a fight that would help Arum’s bottom line. If Pacquiao faces Crawford and loses to him before retiring from boxing, it will help turn Crawford into a star and that obviously will help Arum and his Top Rank company.

Crawford is only 28-years-old now, so he’s probably got another 7-10 good years in his career depending on how he ages and on which other fighters emerge in the 140 and 147lb divisions. Crawford needs to be turned into a start quickly, because I have a feeling that there are going to be some very good fighters that come up the ranks at light welterweight and welterweight that will be just too good for someone like Crawford to beat. Crawford doesn’t have Mayweather’s hand speed, defensive skills, and he doesn’t have huge punching power like Keith Thurman or Errol Spence.

“He’s [Pacquiao] already had one comeback, and was given the right opponents to restore his credibility as the elite fighter he was. I think he needs to beat an elite fighter that we know can fight to want to see him a time after that,” Merchant said.

Crawford has a fight on October 24th against lightweight Dierry Jean (29-1, 20 KOs) on HBO Championship Boxing from the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska. If Crawford can look good in beating Jean, he’ll have a good shot at getting the fight against Pacquiao.

I know Arum is mentioning a lot of different fighters as candidates for Pacquiao’s next fight in 2016, but I think there’s only guy that Arum is seriously interested in putting in with him. I think it’s going to be Crawford. In looking at Arum’s track record in past match-ups for Pacquiao, he tends to match him for the most part with his own Top Rank stable fighters.

That’s why I think Arum will be predictable in this case and have Pacquiao fight Crawford next. It’s a fight that won’t make Pacquiao the kind of money that he’d make if he fought someone with an actual fan base like Amir Khan or Juan Manuel Marquez, but it is a fight that will help Arum and his Top Rank stable. If I were Pacquiao, I’d say no to the Crawford fight and focus on making as much money as I could in my final fight. Fighting Crawford doesn’t make sense unless Pacquiao is doing it out of a favor for Arum, because he’s going to likely wind up with the same amount of PPV buys as his fights against Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios.

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