Khan: I can't argue against Mayweather-Pacquiao fight
While the world watches and waits to see if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. finally, at long last, make a deal for their long-awaited showdown, one man waits with perhaps more interest than anyone: Amir Khan.
The former unified junior welterweight titleholder knows that if Pacquiao and Mayweather do not fight each other on May 2, he is a leading candidate to be the next opponent for both of them.
"I think Mayweather-Pacquiao is a massive fight, the biggest in boxing. It would make sense. It should have happened a long time ago," Khan told ESPN. "So if they finally make it I can't argue against that fight as much as I want to fight those guys. I can't cry over it. If it happens, I am a boxing fan and I will be interested in it. I will be a little upset if I don't get one of them because I think I have proved myself. But if they fight each other, I am fine.
"At the end of the day, everybody wants to see that fight. I want to see it. It's the biggest fight in boxing in a long, long time. People have been waiting for it. But if it doesn't happen, I hope I get to fight one of them. I think I will get one of them. I'm in a very good position."
Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) has been on the short-list of potential Mayweather opponents for the past couple of years, and many thought he would get the fight before Mayweather instead opted to face Marcos Maidana last May and then again in a September rematch. Mayweather reasoned that Khan needed to earn the fight, which many believe he did by dominating former titleholders Luis Collazo (on the Mayweather-Maidana I undercard) in May and Devon Alexander on December 6.
Pacquiao and Khan became friends when they both were trained by Freddie Roach and have sparred some 50 rounds. Last week, when Pacquiao and adviser Michael Koncz were in London, they met with Khan to gauge his interest in a May 30 fight should Pacquiao-Mayweather not come to fruition. Of course, Khan is interested.
So Khan sits and waits, unsure like everyone else what will happen.
"It's been crazy, I don't know what's going on," Khan said. "Floyd likes to leave things to the last minute and we've done no paperwork, no nothing, but my name is always mentioned. With Mayweather he wants to drag it on as long as possible. I'm sure he's been training a little bit and whoever I fight in May, I am back in training on Friday."
Khan took a lot of criticism when he passed on a December 2013 fight with then-welterweight titleholder Alexander, opting instead to sit because he believed he had a May 2014 fight in the bag with Mayweather. Khan said he had already signed a contract but that Mayweather went back on his word and instead picked Maidana.
This time around, even though Khan's name has been prominently mentioned as a possible Mayweather opponent there have not been similar conversations with Mayweather's team. However, it would still be a relatively easy deal to make because Al Haymon is the adviser to both Mayweather and Khan.
With regard to the possible Pacquiao fight, Pacquiao and Koncz "invited me to see them when I was in London, maybe for a cup of tea," Khan said. "Michael was saying that if the Mayweather fight didn't work out that 'Manny would like to fight you. It would sell.' We're both chasing Mayweather, but if it doesn't happen why not fight each other? We had a good meeting and Manny and Michael said they would definitely consider the fight. They had actually contacted me before the Alexander fight asking me if I might be interested. I said, 'Yeah, but I have my hands full with Alexander so let's talk after.'"
Khan said he and Pacquiao stopped sparring after he knocked out Zab Judah to unify junior welterweight belts in 2001 because, "it was getting too competitive. His team didn't want me to spar with him. One day I would get the better of him and sometimes he would get the better of me. But I know I could compete with him if we fight. I think it's very realistic that I could face Manny."
Even though Khan took a lot of criticism for passing on the Alexander fight at the end of 2013, he believes it was for the best. Although he wound up being out of the ring for 13 months, he said it gave him time to work with new trainer Virgil Hunter after his split with Roach.
"He's making me more patient, making me understand the sport more, making me stick to the game plan," Khan said. "It takes time with a new trainer. Everything has come together with me and Virgil. I took that one year off and was working on improving my style and then I fought Collazo. I got used to 147 and then Alexander was a good fight for me. But I regret that I didn't fight him [in 2013]. If I had I probably would have already fought Mayweather."
The business side of Khan facing Mayweather or Pacquiao should be interesting. Although he has been under contract to Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions, Khan said the deals ran concurrently and expired after the December win against Alexander. That would make him available to fight on HBO PPV against Pacquiao, who has a contract with HBO, as well as on Showtime PPV against Mayweather.
"I'm a promotional and TV free agent. I'm only tied to Al as my adviser," Khan said. "Both the Golden Boy and Showtime contracts are done. My lawyer has clarified that with Golden Boy. It doesn't mean we don't want to work with Golden Boy. I'm just saying the contract is expired and my three-fight deal with Showtime is also over. It's in black and white. My lawyer said to me, 'Amir your deal is over. You are a free agent.'"
Golden Boy and Showtime were not as clear.
"We've had a long relationship with Amir and would love to continue working with him," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said. "I have a call into Shah, his father, and hopefully we can work things out and continue our relationship. We would have to take a look at the contract. I'm sure Showtime would argue that his contract is not up and, obviously, our contract is tied to Showtime's."
De La Hoya also endorsed the idea of a Pacquiao-Khan fight.
"The only reason Khan signed with Al is because he promised him Mayweather and it's been two years since they signed the contract and he hasn't gotten the fight. So if there's no Pacquiao-Mayweather, it should be Pacquiao-Khan."
Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza said only, "As a general policy, we don't comment on the specifics of our contractual arrangements."
If Khan, the married father of an eight-month-old daughter, had his choice of fights, he'd opt for Mayweather over Pacquiao.
"I think it could maybe a bigger fight because Floyd is undefeated and he is pound-for-pound No.1," Khan said. "No disrespect to Manny but I think the Mayweather fight shines a little bit more."
There is also another big-time fight out there for Khan: countryman and welterweight titleholder Kell Brook, perhaps the biggest all-British fight that could be made right now.
"That fight can definitely happen," Khan said. "He has a fight coming up [on March 28] with his mandatory [Jo Jo Dan]. I'm fighting in May, so Kell probably wouldn't be ready in May but I would love to fight him at the end of the year. It's a big fight even if it isn't as big as me against Manny or Floyd.
"Kell Brook is very powerful, very strong. He's kind of slick the way he fights. He puts his punches together quite well. Plus, it would be a massive UK fight. I think we could sell out Wembley. A fight between us has been talked about for a long time. It would bring a lot of money for him to fight me. But he's my third choice. You know who the first two are -- Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao."
And so Khan sits and waits for either of them to come calling.