Manny Pacquiao will fight British welterweight Amir Khan on April 9 in Las Vegas, according to reports in the British media Tuesday — reports that, if true, would put an end to the long speculation surrounding the final opponent of that would be the Philippine icon’s incredible, 66-fight, 21-year boxing career. Pacquiao has maintained that after fighting and losing to undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May of 2015 — in a megafight that made more money than any event in boxing history — he would fight once more then retire to devote himself full-time to a political career in his homeland.
The 36-year-old “Pac Man” Pacquiao currently serves as a congressman in the Philippines, but is now running for Senate and has said that the commitment required of a senator rules out any further boxing activities.
The 28-year-old Amir Khan, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, has been lobbying hard for a fight against either Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. for at least the past year. But though Mayweather is now retired, or at least claims to be retired, Pacquaio has been open about his desire to fight a rematch with Mayweather as his final fight next spring.
On two occasions in October, Pacquiao even claimed to have opened talks with Mayweather over terms for the supposed 2016 rematch, only to have Mayweather’s camp deny those claims.
And though backers of Amir Khan — specifically the fighter’s own father — has reportedly “confirmed” that Khan signed an agreement for a match against Pacquiao in April, promoter Bob Arum, who handles Pacquiao, condemned the claim by Khan on Tuesday as “b******t.”
“Our paperwork went off to Mr. Arum on Friday and every point is covered,” Khan’s father is quoted saying in the report. “Mr. Arum has to guarantee millions to Manny and it is unlikely he can reach those numbers with either of the other candidates.”
The report of the Pacquiao vs. Khan “agreement” first appeared in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.
Another Arum-promoted fighter, former welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, fights on Saturday against brawler Brandon Rios in Las Vegas, and Arum expressed irritation that the report of a Pacquiao vs. Khan deal interrupted his preparations for that fight.
“It’s total b******t. It’s complete b******t,” Arum told Yahoo Sports Tuesday. “I’m sitting here trying to figure a way to sell tickets to my (Bradley vs Rios) fight and now my phone is ringing off the hook because this lunatic made some s**t up.”
The Daily Mail reporter who penned the report claiming that the agreement for Khan to fight Pacquiao had been “confirmed” was Jeff Powell, who two years ago reported that Khan had inked a contract to fight Mayweather — a fight that obviously never materialized.
“There’s no truth at all to this,” Arum told The Los Angeles Times, also on Tuesday. “This is coming from the same people who said Lennox Lewis was coming out of retirement to fight Klitschko and that Khan had a deal with Mayweather. Never happened.”
Amir Khan himself is in India this week, and when contacted by reporters, he said only that the fight against Pacquiao would be “amazing” — if it happens.
“It would be an amazing fight, two fighters who know each other really well,” Khan said in India. “We have trained together, sparred together and obviously I have left it to my team. I’m on a vacation here, my office arranges the fights for me. If the fight happens, it would be an amazing fight, it would be a big fight.”
For boxing fans unfamiliar with Amir Khan, and want to decide for themselves whether he would make a worthy opponent for Manny Pacquiao, a video of Khan’s “greatest hits” by the pay cable outlet HBO can be viewed at the top of this page.
[Featured Photo By Al Bello / Getty Images]