The Fight You Never Knew You Needed: Khan versus Pacquiao

February 28, 2024
3 months

Some fights transcend the boxing ring in terms of overall importance to sporting and cultural landscapes. Manny Pacquiao made boxing history by fighting Floyd Mayweather, albeit a few years too late. Amir Khan was spirited against Canelo Álvarez…yet both fights were long ago. So, do the Khan and Pacquiao pair need to return for this fight?

Take Advantage of Boxing Popularity Surge

Boxing is more relevant now than it has been in years. Generation Z has made the sport its own with crossover and influencer boxing, which divides opinion and creates online boxing news at the same time. While neither Amir Khan nor Manny Pacquiao are internet personalities, they will still be eager to make a few extra gold coins in their autumnal careers. After all, a byproduct of this new wave of boxing is that traditional boxing (the type contested between boxers) also shows an upturn in popularity.

Opening Up Old Scars

Given that Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan were incredibly popular fighters from the same era, fighting in multiple divisions, it is a wonder that they never met in their prime. The British boxer fought in lightweight to middleweight, while PacMan fought primarily in lower weight classes but went as high as light middleweight, meaning there was most certainly scope for a fight.

There were multiple occasions of humdrum in the past that the two would fight. There was a juncture in both of their careers where they were both mentored by Freddie Roach. Dean Byrne, a boxer who attended Roach’s gym and training sessions, stated that Freddie often had to separate Khan and Pacquiao. They were not allowed to spar with one another as they would become too competitive, even in a training environment.

Old articles on boxing news sites speculate that, at times like 2015 and 2017, the pair were close to agreeing on a fight, but nothing ever materialized. Little reasoning has ever surfaced as to why the fight was never commissioned; however, some sources indicate that Pacquiao refused to sign the contract while Khan was much more enthusiastic about the fight.

Does Khan Need to Fight Again?

Amir Khan was a staple of the British boxing scene; from humble beginnings in Bolton, Greater Manchester, he ascended to sweet science acclaim by capturing continental and world championships. At the height of his career, he fought the likes of Danny Garcia, Chris Algieri, Samuel Vargas, and Canelo Álvarez, making trending boxing news at the time. After losing to Terence Crawford in April 2019, the writing was on the wall. His time in the ring was coming to an end when compared to the emerging fighters.

Since then, Khan has launched a moderately successful media career as a favorite on mainstream television shows, appearing on I’m A Celebrity, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, etc. He also starred in Meet the Khans: Big in Bolton on BBC Three, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about his daily routines and lifestyle as a former professional boxer. The latter enjoyed a cult following as he became relevant to the British public in 2021.

This prompted a comeback to the ring in 2022, with Khan wanting to show that he was more than a celebrity and could still fight. This was against long-time rival Kell Brook, a fellow British fighter in the same division and era. Brook won the fight with a TKO victory in the sixth round, making Khan look like a shell of his former self. Two years later, Khan hasn’t fought since that ill-fated night in Manchester. Does he really need to fight Pacquiao? He could just sit back and manage his soft drinks brand in Pakistan…

Is Pacquiao Done with Politics?

Between 2016 and 2022, Manny Pacquiao served as the Senator of the Philippines, an essential role in the country’s political landscape. During this term, he announced his candidacy for the presidential election in May 2022. While he earned support from sporting and political onlookers, he placed third while aligned with the MP3 alliance, bringing together multiple parties from socially conservative and Christian-based views.

What does PacMan do next at 45 and with no political duties? While helping his country form a professional basketball league and wanting to own one of the NBA franchises, is there anything that keeps Pacquiao away from boxing? This man has already had multiple retirements and returns, notably winning a world title at 40.

In fact, this isn’t the only fight that Pacquiao has lined up. He was supposed to fight renowned Muay Thai fighter Buakaw Banchamek in January 2024, within traditional boxing rules – but the fight was postponed to April. Could he fight Khan after going all six rounds with Banchamek?

How Does this Fight Play Out?

Manny Pacquiao has never fought in the UK, despite starting his boxing career in 1995. Given his broad reach with global fans, this fight against Amir Khan could be his chance to finally fight on British soil. He and Khan would no doubt be able to shift ticket sales if this bout was held in either London or Manchester.

Khan is seven years younger than his adversary; therefore, he will enjoy some natural youthful fitness, allowing him, in theory, to better replicate the performances from his prime. However, he has been much less active than Pacquiao in the past few years. Despite holding multiple political responsibilities, the Filipino has been incredibly active in his sporting pursuits, having played in the Kia Motors basketball team and amateur boxing fights. Therefore, he has a sporting fitness advantage over the British boxer.

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By Dean McHugh.