By Scott Gilfoid: Following his life and death battle against Samuel Vargas, Amir Khan made it clear last Saturday night that he wants Manny Pacquiao for his next fight in December, not Kell Brook. Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) got up on his soapbox after beating Vargas (29-4-2, 14 KOs) by a closer than expected 12 round unanimous decision and told the boxing fans at ringside at the Arena Birmingham that he wants to fight the 39-year-old WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) in his next fight.
Khan’s promoter Eddie Hearn didn’t take the news well, telling the media that Khan must make up his mind to face Brook next or else he’ll permanently miss out on his chance of making that fight. Hearn sounded like his kettle was on the boil in a major way after Khan predictably told the fans that he wants Pacquiao instead of his Matchroom Sport stable fighter Brook.
From Hearn’s perspective, it’s easy to see why he was practically frothing at the mouth after Khan ignored Brook and called out Pacquiao. Ever since Hearn started promoting Brook years ago, he’s been talking up a fight between him and Khan. It’s as if the fight validates Brook as a fighter. The worldwide boxing fans never cared a fig about seeing Brook and Khan fight, but that’s all Hearn has talked about. When Hearn put Brook in with two good fighters in Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady Golovkin, he promptly quit in both fights. After those two fights, I dare say that the boxing world couldn’t care less if Brook never fights Khan, because he’s not relevant at this point.
If Hearn wants to make Brook relevant, he only has to match him against WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo or IBF/WBA champion Jarrett Hurd. If Brook beats those guys, he’ll have the U.S and worldwide boxing fans caring about him again. As of now, fans don’t care about Brook because he quit against Spence and Golovkin. Hearn feeding Brook a figher named Sergey Rabchenko last March did nothing to regain his credibility with fans. Rabchenko was just awful to the extreme, and not nearly good enough to make boxing fans forget about Brook’s two quit jobs against GGG and Spence.
“Bring on Manny Pacquiao,” a gleeful Khan said Sky Sports moments after having his hand raised upon beating 29-year-old Vargas. “He is an amazing, amazing boxer, so who wants to see Manny Pacquiao? Who wants to see the Kell Brook fight?
The fans cheered about the same for both fighters Pacquiao and Brook, which let Khan know clearly that they’re not particularly interested in seeing him fight either of those guys. The fans obviously want to see Khan fight guys that are at the top of their careers in Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter or Terence Crawford. Heck, the fans probably wouldn’t mind seeing Khan fight a rematch against Danny Garcia, who was beaten last Saturday night by Porter by a 12 round unanimous decision in a failed attempt to recapture the vacant World Boxing Council welterweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Garcia looked better in losing to Porter than Brook and Pacquiao did in winning their last fights against Rabchenko and a shot-looking Lucas Matthysse.
I hate to break this to Khan but it’s a little late in the game for him to be fighting Pacquiao. The boxing world doesn’t see the 39-year-old Filipino star as a top fighter anymore. He lost to Jeff Horn last year, and he didn’t look like anything special in defeating Matthysse, Tim Bradley and Jessie Vargas. Those three guys are the fighters that Pacquiao has beaten since 2016. You can argue that Pacquiao hasn’t beaten a good fighter in nine years since his victory over Miguel Cotto in 2009. Pacquiao’s two wins over Juan Manuel Marquez were highly controversial with many people seeing them as gift decisions. Pacquiao beat a prime Tim Bradley in 2014, but he was never in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr., so the win hardly meant anything. My point is Khan gains nothing in fighting Pacquiao now, because he’ll be seen as someone taking advantage of an old man who likely wouldn’t be a world champion if he had faced Porter, Garcia, Spence or Crawford. Pacquiao would lose to all of those fighters in my book.
Khan had to get up off the deck in the 2nd round last Saturday night after getting dropped hard by journeyman Vargas. Khan was then able to knock Vargas down with a beautiful rabbit punch to the back of his head in the 3rd round. The knockdown was legit in the eyes of the referee Terry O’Connor. Khan then went on to win an ugly 12 round decision over Vargas. But before the fight was over, Khan was badly staggered in round 10 and came close to being knocked out in that round. 10 more seconds in the round and Khan would have been knocked out. Now that Khan has his win over Vargas, he’s ready for what he feels is a big name at the end of the year.
The only big name that Khan is interested in fighting now is Pacquiao. Brook is willing to drain down o 147 to fight Khan, and he’s even willing to take the small end of the stick in terms of money for the fight. Brook obviously knows that the money would still be incredibly good for him in a fight against Khan, because it would be a pay-per-view fight on Sky Box Office. It would be a similar type of fight as the Tony Bellew vs. David Haye fights, which saw two shot fighters competing on PPV in the UK. It didn’t matter to the UK boxing fans that Bellew and Haye weren’t capable of beating the champions or even the top contenders at heavyweight or cruiserweight. The fans still eagerly purchased the two Bellew-Haye fights in droves and made them both loads of money. If Brook gets Khan to fight him once or twice in the UK, he would make tons of money himself regardless of the fact that he’s done zero at 154 and that he would likely be beaten by the top 147 pound fighters if he were to boil down to that weight class to fight one or all of them.
“I want the biggest fights and that’s where I belong. Me and Eddie [Hearn] are going to sit down,” Khan said. ”There is a massive demand for it but the only fight that works for me over Kell Brook is Manny Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao is who I want. I want Manny Pacquiao.”
So there it is. Khan wants Pacquiao and he’s making it Chrystal clear that Brook is not on his shopping list of fighters that he’s interested in facing right now. As such, Hearn is going to need to follow Khan’s marching orders give to him to go out and make the fight with Pacquiao or else. If Hearn doesn’t make the Khan-Pacquiao fight, then we’re likely going to see Khan fight another Vargas level fighter in his next fight in December, which will be his final fight of his three-fight contract with Hearn. You can bet that if Hearn isn’t able to deliver Khan the fight that he wants against Pacquiao, then he’ll move on to one of the big American promotional companies that have the willingness to make a fight between Khan and Pacquiao. If Khan signs with Top Rank, you can bet they’ll be chomping at the bit to try and put the Khan-Pacquiao fight together.