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Pacquiao interested in Khan fight

Amir Khan Jessie Vargas Manny Pacquiao

By Scott Gilfoid: If 37-year-old Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) can get by Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on Saturday night to win his WBO welterweight title, we could be seeing a fight between him and Britain’s Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) in the future. Pacquiao says he’s open to fighting the 29-year-old Khan.

Of course, the decision obvious wouldn’t be up to Pacquiao. His promoter Bob Arum is the one who picks out opponents for him to fight. If Arum chose to offer Pacquiao other fighters, then Khan will be out of luck. Khan was in the running for Pacquiao’s last fight in April of this year, but instead Tim Bradley was selected for that fight date.

It was not a decision on Pacquiao’s part, and a bad one by Arum to put Bradley in as one of the possibilities for that fight. The boxing public did not want to see a third fight between Pacquiao and Bradley, and the fight did poor PPV numbers in bringing in just 400,000 buys compared to the 800,000+ that the Pacquiao-Bradley fights in the past.

“I’m willing to fight anybody,” said Pacquiao to “Amir Khan is my friend and it’s good to fight somebody that you know. That’s better.”

I think it’s painfully obvious that Khan stands no chance of getting a fight against Pacquiao. It’s not just because of Khan having recently had hand surgery to repair his damaged right hand. It’s more about Khan having the wrong fighting style for Pacquiao. Khan likes to move a lot around the ring, and it might turn out to be a dull fight for the boxing fans. It would also be a tough fight for Pacquiao, because he would need to chase Khan around the ring before being able to hit him with anything.

Khan is also not in a good position career-wise to get the Pacquiao fight, because he was blasted out in six rounds in his last fight by former World Boxing Council middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez last May on HBO pay-per-view in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Khan did give Canelo problems in the first five rounds of the contest, he still ended up getting knocked out cold in the 6th round after getting hit by a sledgehammer right hand by the Mexican fighter.

Pacquiao and his promoters at Top Rank would have a hard time selling a fight against Khan, given that he’s not fought since his loss to Canelo. If Khan had at least fought once against a top fighter, then it might be feasible to make a fight between him and Pacquiao. But there’s no way that you can sell a fight between Pacquiao and Khan right now in the U.S, because it wouldn’t look sporting. It would look like Pacquiao has selected a guy that is down in his luck and vulnerable.

Khan’s career has really slowed since his back to back losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in 2011-2012. Khan hasn’t been facing the truly talented welterweights in the division, and he’s not been fighting a whole heck of a lot. Khan fought only once in 2013 in defeating a past his best former lightweight champion Julio Diaz. Khan was dropped in that fight and staggered twice. It was a controversial win for Khan over Diaz. Khan fought twice in 2014 in beating Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. In 2015, Khan fought only once. The same goes for 2016. Khan has fought only once, and he’s done for the year due to a hand injury. It’s unclear whether Khan would have fought anyway even if he hadn’t suffered a hand injury.

“The love of boxing motivated me and also I feel lonely inside,” Pacquiao said. “I realize I can still box and so I decided to change my mind and continue the journey. It’s not easy (to combine boxing with being a senator), it’s hard to balance working in an office and training but I can manage my time. This is a very important fight and it’s a difficult fight – he’s a champion so you can’t underestimate him or take him lightly but I’ll make sure I’m 100 per cent conditioned, mentally and spiritually.”

It’s probably not the smartest thing for Pacquiao to be talking about a fight against Khan right now with a formidable opponent in front of him in Jessie Vargas on Saturday. Boxing fans don’t recognize the 27-year-old Vargas as being the No.1 fighter in the 147lb division, but he’s still good opponent. Vargas is a solid top 10 guy in the welterweight division. If Pacquiao overlooks this fight, he could wind up suffering another loss.

Pacquiao retired from boxing after beating Tim Bradley in a third fight last April. Pacquiao was elected into the senate in the Philippines, a job that requires full time commitment. Pacquiao missed competing in the sport so he decided to come back. Pacquiao was able to get time off from his job responsibilities to resume training to go after Vargas in an attempt to win his WBO 147lb title. It’s an ideal situation for Pacquiao, because Vargas is with Top Rank as well. Putting the fight together was easy.

Khan is talking about coming back in early 2017 to go after the big names in the sport. Khan wants to fight the winner of the Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman fight. He also mentioned being interested in fighting IBF champion Kell Brook, who recently was knocked out by middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in a 5th round stoppage last September.

If Pacquiao is interested in a fight against Khan, then that could be a possibility for 2017. It won’t be Pacquiao’s call though. His 84-year-old promoter Bob Arum does the selecting of opponents for him. Arum usually offers Pacquiao a small choice of fighters for him to pick from. It wouldn’t be surprising if at least two of the options that Arum offers Pacquiao are fighters from his own Top Rank stable. If Arum wants Khan as an option for Pacquiao, then he’ll include his name in the small group of fighters that he asks for him to pick from. I don’t see it happening though. I think Arum will exclude Khan’s name, and focus on having his own fighters as the options for Pacquiao to pick from.

“I respect Vargas and his team, how dedicated they are. I feel what he’s feeling right now because I’ve been there when I was 27 years old, 28 years old and I know how hungry I was,” said Pacquiao.

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