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Khan says Arum interested in Khan-Pacquiao fight

Image: Khan says Arum interested in Khan-Pacquiao fight

By Scott Gilfoid: Amir Khan says he spoke to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and he says he’s interested in matching him against his former pay-per-view star Manny Pacquiao. This is a fight that Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) has practically been salivating over for ages now, but for some reason Arum has held off at making it.

Now that Pacquiao is no longer under his Top Rank banner, Arum appears to be finally interested in making. Of course, Pacquiao appears to be at the end of the line at 39 with very few options of winnable payday fights over name fighters. Khan, 31, is perhaps the most winnable fight for the former 8 division world champion Pacquiao, and it could help breathe some life into his sagging career if he can beat the British fighter and look good in the process.

For Khan to get the Pacquiao fight, he’s going to need to persuade his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing to make the fight, because he’s extremely eager to match him against his own fighter former IBF 147 lb. champion Kell Brook in December. Hearn has been banging on about the Khan-Brook fight ever since he first signed Khan to his Matchroom sable. Hearn matched Khan up with a soft touch in Samuel Vargas (29-3-2, 14 KOs) on September 8 with the idea of them putting Khan in with Brook in December.

If Khan vetoes that idea by insisting that Hearn match him against Pacquiao in December, you have to wonder whether the promoter will drag his heels in making that fight happen. I mean, we saw what a great job Hearn did in not making the Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight in 2018. Some boxing fans believe Hearn never seriously wanted to match star fighter Joshua against the dangerous KO artist Wilder this year. I’d hate to see Khan lose the Pacquiao fight due to Hearn insisting he face Brook instead. Brook is a decent domestic level fight for Khan, but there would be scant interest worldwide in a fight like that. For the boxing fans outside of the UK, they mostly know Brook as the guy that was knocked out by Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady Golovkin. Brook is popular in the UK only. Khan would accomplish a heck of a lot more by fighting Pacquiao than he would against Brook, who quit on one knee in his last fight against a talented opponent in Spence in May of 2017.

The two fighters both have fights they need to get out of the way first before a potential Khan vs. Pacquiao fight can take place in 2018. Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) will be challenging WBA ‘secondary’ welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) this Saturday night on July 14 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The fight is viewed as a 50-50 toss-up match by many in the boxing industry, as Pacquiao looked horrendous in his last fight against Jeff Horn in July of 2017 in Brisbane, Australia.

Pacquiao lost the fight by a close 12 round unanimous decision and looked like a completely shot old fighter. Now he’s about to face another old timer in 35-year-old Matthysse, who despite being way past his best days, can still punch like mule kicks. Even if Pacquiao makes Matthysse look bad for eight or nine rounds, if he gets nailed by one of the Argentinian knockout artist’s big shots, it’ll be game over for the Filipino star.

“I spoke to Bob a few times, look, the fight they would love to have is the Manny Pacquiao fight,” Khan told ES News Reporting. “I remember talking to Bob about it and Bob was really interested. It’s funny, Bob is changing things again. I mean, I’m with Eddie Hearn, Eddie is the guy who makes my fights and whoever he puts me in front of I’m ready for. I think after this fight against Samuel Vargas it’s time to step up against one of the big names,” Khan said.

It’s too bad that Pacquiao is likely going to be knocked out by Matthysse on Saturday night, because a lot of boxing fans would be more than interested in seeing him battle Khan. I for one would like to see Khan finally get his dream fight against Pacquiao after all these years. This isn’t a knock on Brook, but that’s an inferior fight for Khan in comparison. Look at it this way; if Khan takes Pacquiao’s scalp and sends him into a retirement in grand style, it would help make a fight against Brook into a far bigger fight than it otherwise would be.

There’s no upside in Khan going from beating the hopelessly over-matched Samuel Vargas to a fight against Brook. Under those conditions, the Khan vs. Brook fight isn’t going to register a blip on the radar screen in terms of attracting interest from the boxing world. It’ll be viewed as an old timer’s fight between two shot fighters, who are taking on soft touches in order to keep from getting knocked out again.

In Khan’s last fight, he knocked out gatekeeper/journeyman Phil Lo Greco in the 1st round last April in his comeback fight. It was a horrible match-up, to be sure, and now Khan is being put in with another weak opponent in Vargas. This is NOT the way that you go about building a supposedly big fight between Khan and Brook. You’ve got to put the two guys in risky fights, but for some reason Hearn isn’t doing that. Brook just finished blowing out former fringe contender Sergey Rabchenko in two rounds last March.

Brook (37-2, 26 KOs) will now be facing another easy mark in Brandon Cook (20-1, 14 KOs) on July 28 at the O2 Arena in London, England. You can ignore Cook’s 20-1 record, as it’s come at the expense of weak opposition. Cook hasn’t been fighting the cream of the crop at 154. The best opponent on Cook’s resume is Kanat Islam, who knocked him out in the 9th round last year in September. Just why Hearn chose to match Brook against a fighter like Cook, who was recently knocked out, is pretty obvious. At the very least, Hearn should have matched Brook against Kanat Islam, Tony Harrison or Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams. If Brook can’t beat those fighters, then he doesn’t belong at 154, which I think is the case. Brook doesn’t belong at 154 in my view.

Khan might as well fight Pacquiao because he’s going to get wrecked if he faces the talented younger fighters at welterweight like Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Terence Crawford, Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman. There would still be interest from the casual boxing fans in a Khan vs. Pacquiao fight despite the fact that both guys have seen better days. The only thing that I can see keeping that fight from potentially taking place is Hearn. If he doesn’t want Khan to fight Pacquiao, then I suspect we’re going to see another Joshua-Wilder situation where the negotiations drag out and go nowhere. Khan might need to be assertive if he wants to truly face Pacquiao, because if Hearn sticks him in with Brook instead, then it’ll be too late afterwards for the Khan-Pacquiao fight to take place. If Khan gets knocked out by Brook, which I believe will ultimately happen, then there won’t be much interest from the boxing public in seeing a Pacquiao-Khan fight. On the flipside, if Khan faces Pacquiao and loses to him, there would still be a lot of interest in the UK for a fight between him and Brook. The British fans just want to see Khan and Brook face each other, period. Even if the two were losing all their fights, the UK fans would still be eager to see them fight on Sky Box Office PPV.

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