Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have all that many fights left in him. At 33 years old, he, his camp and all his fans are well aware of the fact that the end is near. Because of how few fights he has in him, the Filipino champion can’t afford to just willy-nilly square off against whoever challenges him. He needs to be smart about his future opponents, weighing the risks involved with each one versus the actual, measurable benefits of fighting them.
At this point, here is a rough sketch of what Pacquiao’s schedule looks like for the next year and change: a June 9 battle against Timothy Bradley, an end-of-year showdown versus Juan Manuel Marquez and a maybe/possibly/probably not Dream Match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at some point in 2013. Beyond that, there is literally nothing in the cards, and no real potential opponents even being discussed.
Enter: Amir Khan.
Prior to his loss to Lamont Peterson (who was recently busted for a failed drug test), Khan was on the fast track to becoming one of boxing’s premiere superstars. Naturally, because of the sort of respect that everyone had for him, there were quiet murmurs that at some point he should get the opportunity to face off against the world’s top two pound-for-pounders. Khan, his part, always responded really well to those rumors, displaying confidence and making it no secret that he desperately wanted a shot at Mayweather.
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A fight versus Pacquiao, though? He was a bit more apprehensive about that. While the idea of taking on and beating quite possibly the best fighter in the world no doubt appealed to Khan on some level, there were extenuating circumstances that made him a bit wary.
For one thing, they shared a trainer in Freddie Roach, and Roach had made it clear that he would side with Pacquiao if this fight were ever to take place. Beyond that, though, he and Pacquiao are friends – and the prospect of fighting a friend is always mildly unappealing.
Apparently it’s not terribly unappealing, though.
While preparing for his July 14 showdown versus Danny Garcia, Khan let the cat out of the bag regarding his future plans. Per the Telegraph (bold is ours, not theirs)
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"Garcia's a great champion, and an unbeaten fighter, and I want to take care of him, and then move up to 147 [welterweight].
"Then I'll probably have one more fight at 147 before I go on to the big, big names like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. But one step at a time,” said Khan.
You certainly can’t fault Khan for wanting a shot at the best, it’s just nice that he’s finally admitting that it is in fact in his plans.
Frankly, this is as good of news for Pacquiao as it is for the fans. With Khan on the schedule, that lessens Mayweather’s leverage during negotiations for that super fight. It also gives the Filipino champion another legitimate, credible opponent to fight – thereby justifying him prolonging his retirement for that much longer.