The Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. equation now has to include a previously unaccounted for variable: Amir Khan.
For months now, Khan -- one of the most prominent and compelling stars in the sport -- had been goading Mayweather. He’s called him out for ducking Pacquiao. He’s called him out for his contradictory nature. And, most recently, he put out a direct challenge to his unbeaten counterpart via The Guardian – fight me next summer.
"Maybe next summer the fight against Floyd Mayweather could happen. It is about experience and timing and I think it is my time now. We want to jump there because we have cleaned up the 140lb division. We want to jump in there with the best and beat the best. Every young fighter has ambitions and I am really confident I have the style, speed and power to beat him. I also have the best team around me.
"If the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight doesn't happen I am happy to step in there – but that is if Floyd will take the fight. At the moment he is saying he doesn't want to fight me. It is because of all the hard work you put into boxing. If you put a lot of hard work into it people see that hard work, your performances and see you doing really well and they tend to back off. Maybe Floyd doesn't want to get beaten."
As it stands, the WBA and IBF light-welterweight champion wants to fight one more match in his current division before following in the footsteps of great boxers before him, and moving up in weight to fight more serious boxers. With little to fight for amongst his peers at his present level, the 24-year-old Khan can’t help but salivate over the prospects available to him in the near future.
"December 10 will be my next fight but we don't know who it will be against yet," he said. "We are looking at a few opponents but everyone we try to fight is pulling out. Timothy Bradley had the chance to fight me in an undisputed unification fight and he turned it down because he knew he was going to get beaten. Erik Morales told us on Friday that he doesn't want to fight me. Maybe they are all afraid.
"There are only a few people we can pick now because I am the number one in this division."
Mayweather, of course, is scheduled to square off against Victor Ortiz in September – his first bout in over a year. The hope among many is that the undefeated, charismatic fighter is simply using Ortiz as a tune-up for the fight that everyone wants to see: a dream match between himself and Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, on the flip side, has a bout scheduled against Juan Manuel Marquez in November. Although he’s largely accepted as the favorite in that one, recent developments have made that fight slightly more intriguing. Still, barring some cataclysmic collapse, the Filipino superstar should emerge unscathed on November 18 and be primed and ready – if Mayweather decides he’s finally ready to fight him.
Khan seems hell-bent on getting a shot at Mayweather, but he also appears comfortable with the idea that Pacquiao gets first dibs. Initially there was concern that Khan would disrupt a potential Pacquiao v. Mayweather superfight, but now, it’s clear that he’s more than willing to stand by and let fate take its course.
It must be interesting to be Mayweather right now. After a 16 month absence from the sport, he already has two of the biggest and most recognizable fighters in boxing chomping at the bits to tear him to pieces.
Train hard, Floyd – you’ve got a rough year ahead of you.