Khan joins Pacquiao sweepstakes
Khan and Pacquiao
STAR/File
Khan joins Pacquiao sweepstakes
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former super WBA/IBF lightwelterweight champion Amir Khan is suddenly in the candidates’ list for super WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent with interest from Middle East promoters stirring the pot to make an intriguing option for a title defense.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said the other day there’s still nothing definite in Pacquiao’s schedule. However, he noted the target is to stage Pacquiao’s next fight in April. Whether the fight will be in the US or the Middle East or somewhere else is up in the air. The opponent is also a question mark at this point with former two-time world champion Danny Garcia a leading contender. Garcia’s chances hinge on how he performs against Ukraine’s Ivan Redkach in Brooklyn this Saturday. 

Believe it or not, MMA brawler Conor McGregor is now in the candidates’ list, too. Last Saturday, McGregor zoomed back into contention with a 40-second demolition of Donald Cerrone at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Shoulder strikes and a kick to the jaw set up Cerrone for the stoppage but McGregor also showed stunning power with his left hand. For his next fight, McGregor wants a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., whom he lost to by a stoppage in 2017, or a duel with Pacquiao.

Gibbons isn’t ruling out McGregor as an opponent for Pacquiao. Before McGregor’s win over Cerrone, Pacquiao wished him good luck in a video message. “We’ve put Conor’s name out there,” said Gibbons. “We teased it a little bit. If the fans want a McGregor fight with the Senator, why not? I think it’ll be an exciting and competitive fight. Conor was green when he fought Mayweather but in the early rounds, he did well. He learned a lot from that. That was just his first foray into boxing. There’s never been any doubt about Conor’s striking skills.”

Gibbons said he’s confident a Pacquiao-McGregor fight will bring in 60,000 fans to the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium which is set for a grand opening in August. He said fans prefer McGregor fighting Pacquiao than Mayweather in a rematch. “The Senator versus Conor is more interesting because there are lot of unknown things that play into the fight,” said Gibbons, quoted by Michael Woods in SBNation. “Mayweather been there, done that. McGregor doesn’t beat either one but the Senator brings a fresh look.”

While there is talk of McGregor as a future opponent, Khan has joined the sweepstakes. Last July, Khan stopped Australia’s Billy Dib in the fourth round to bag the WBC International welterweight crown in Jeddah. The win raised Khan’s record to 34-5, with 21 KOs. Khan, 33, was a silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics and is of Pakistani descent. As a pro, his losses were to Terence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez, Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Breidis Prescott. 

“Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 and is clearly a player in promoting big international sporting events along with Saudi Arabia,” said Gibbons. “There’s interest in bringing the Senator to the Middle East for a fight. We’re exploring that possibility. We’re sorting out a lot of moving parts.”

AMIR KHAN MANNY PACQUIAO
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