Amir Khan Will Consider Return To Fight Manny Pacquiao: ‘That Would Lift Me Up’

February 28, 2024
3 months
Amir Khan

Former unified world champion Amir Khan has admitted he would come out of retirement if he could secure a fight with Manny Pacquiao.

Khan hung up his gloves in February 2022 after suffering a sixth-round stoppage defeat to long-time domestic rival Kell Brook. It was the sixth loss of the Briton’s career – five of which came by knockout – to go with 34 victories (21 KOs).

Since retiring, Khan has frequently said that he has no desire to return to the ring, but a lucrative and high-profile bout with Pacquiao in Saudi Arabia could change his mind, he said. Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in boxing, led by Turki Alalshikh – Chairman of General Authority for Entertainment and recently named by The Independent as the most influential figure in boxing and MMA.

“I mean I am training a little bit here and there but the thing is the only man that can make that fight happen is Turki Alalshikh,” Khan, 37, said in an interview with SunSport. “I think Turki Alalshikh can make that fight happen between me and Manny Pacquiao. Yeah, that’s a fight that would definitely lift me up, for sure.”

At the height of his career as a super-lightweight world champion, Khan was a legitimate challenger to both Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather Jr. – the two biggest stars in his division at the time. Yet, despite his continued attempts to secure mega-bouts with the Filipino and American greats, a fight never materialized.

There has also been some speculation linking Khan with a potential fight with YouTube star-turned-boxer Jake Paul, but the former Olympic silver medalist said he has no interest in that bout.

“Jake Paul, I don’t think I can lift myself up for that fight,” Khan added. “But, like a Manny Pacquiao fight you have to be on your A-game.”

While Khan contemplates a return under the right circumstances – namely a fight with Pacquiao – the Filipino himself is already preparing for his latest retirement U-turn. The 45-year-old eight-weight world champion has not fought since his August 2021 points defeat to Yordenis Ugas, after which he called time on his historic career.

Pacquiao has competed in a few exhibition bouts recently, but his manager Sean Gibbons revealed recently that the fighter is plotting a return to the professional ranks.

“Technically he’s out of retirement,” Gibbons said. “He’s got about a year left. He just wants to fight. Manny feels that he’s in tremendous shape.”

Khan’s Massive Impact On British Boxing

It is perhaps unfortunate for Khan that his most high-profile fights were also his most high-profile losses because he should be remembered as a British boxing great who made a massive impact on the sport in his country.

Long before the brutal losses to Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford – two examples of awful matchmaking against much bigger and stronger opponents – Khan was solely responsible for reviving Great Britain’s Olympic boxing program.

His silver medal as a 17-year-old at the 2004 Athens Games led to huge interest in amateur boxing in the UK and resulted in increased investment from UK Sport, paving the way for the likes of Anthony Joshua, James DeGale, and Nicola Adams, who all won gold at subsequent Olympics and became world champions in the pro ranks.

Khan leveraged his own Olympic success to fast-track his pro career, drawing huge attendances even to his earlier bouts. He suffered a monumental setback with a first-round defeat to Breidis Prescott but bounced back when he made the step up from lightweight to super-lightweight.

With a combination of his blistering hand speed, shaky defense, and questionable chin, Khan fights were always box-office viewing, and he first became world champion in July 2009 with a comfortable points win over Andriy Kotelnik.

He defended his WBA title five times, including a thrilling win over Marcos Maidana – arguably the crowning moment of his career – and became unified champion in July 2017 with a fifth-round stoppage of then-IBF title holder Zab Judah.

Khan’s career next quite hit the same heights again, suffering a controversial split decision loss to Lamont Peterson and a brutal fourth-round knockout by Danny Garcia. Wins over the likes of Julio Diaz and Devon Alexander followed, but the devastating defeats to Canelo and Crawford later in his career all but ended Khan’s time at the elite level.

Still, his legacy lives on and whether he returns to the ring for another big payday against Pacquiao or not, Khan’s impact on British boxing cannot be disputed.