Is Pacquiao-Khan a bait and switch?
By Hector Franco
February 28, 2017
The last few weeks have been a somewhat turbulent time for Top Rank and their biggest star Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs). At the beginning of the year, it seemed that Pacquiao who is the current WBO welterweight champion would be facing his number two contender, Australia’s Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs).
Horn is largely unknown to most boxing fans outside of his native Australia. Needless to say, the fight is now the third Pacquiao fight in a row that was met with criticism. The fight would be promoted as the beginning of a worldwide pseudo-retirement tour for Pacquiao as the fight would take place in Australia.
The fight seemed to be ready to be announced for a date of April 22nd, but publicly and privately there was a disagreement within team Pacquiao. The Filipino’s longtime advisor Michael Koncz along with Pacquiao began singing a different tune then promoter Bob Arum.
This week Pacquiao and his team announced that they would be fighting former 140-pound champion Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) on April 23rd. Khan was last seen in a boxing ring looking up at the lights after a right hand from Canelo Alvarez. A fight with Amir Khan would generate more money than a fight with Jeff Horn. It would take place in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai with an amount of 38 million to help make the fight happen.
There is some intrigue in a fight with Khan as there is a natural storyline there to be told. Khan used to be trained by Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach. The two split after Khan’s loss to Danny Garcia in 2012. There have also been differing opinions in what took place in sparring sessions between Pacquiao and Khan.
Freddie Roach is just the beginning of where the advantages start for Pacquiao. Khan may be the younger man, but he is also a fighter who has been relatively inactive for the last few years. The British fighter had one fight in both 2015 and 2016. Before being starched by Canelo, Khan went life and death with Chris Algieri (21-3, 8 KOs) in May 2015. Along with hall-of-Famer Marco Antonio Barrera, Algieri is a common opponent for Khan and Pacquiao. Fans may remember Pacquiao dominating Algieri to an easy unanimous decision victory scoring six knockdowns along the way.
While Khan has been inactive the 8-division world champion, Pacquiao has been active. Just last year he faced two top-ten welterweights in Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas.
There is also the psychological edge of one fighter being the alpha in this fight. It was Pacquiao who was the legend when Khan first came to the Wild Card gym to train. The Filipino was at the height of his career when he first met Khan. Khan is the little brother in this fight and hasn’t proved to be anything else in recent years.
Stylistically the fight favors Pacquiao as well. Fighters who are master technicians such as Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather have given Pacquiao the most problems. Khan is a fighter who has lapses in concentration. His fights with Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez show that a lack of focus can be deadly for Khan.
We are now at the end of February, and if a Pacquiao-Khan fight is to take place, it will leave both men with less than six weeks to prepare for the fight. Promoting the fight could be an issue as well as the fight calls for some world press tour.
With HBO bypassing over Pacquiao’s last fight with Jessie Vargas it may not be guaranteed that it’ll be shown on HBO on such short notice.
It could be that the fight is pushed back to a later date to give both men time to prepare. Bob Arum along with Top Rank has still not announced the fight, and until then Pacquiao-Khan is just rumor and innuendo.
(Feature Photo: Action Images)