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Offers piling up for Manny
By Joaquin Henson
Thu, 09 Aug 2018
WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao is now sifting offers from various quarters for his next fight, likely to be in December, but it appears that the “Big One,” a blockbuster matchup, will take place in 2019. Demand for a Pacquiao bout is back on a high note after his seventh round stoppage of Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur last month, reestablishing his reputation as an exciting box office attraction.
Pacquiao recently told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times that he’s aiming to return to the ring on Dec. 2 without providing details of a possible venue or opponent. There is talk that an investment group is drawing up plans for a Pacquiao title defense at The Venetian in Macao on either Dec. 1 or 8, Saturday night, US time. That would be Dec. 2 or 9, Sunday morning, local time.
Golden Boy is also working on a deal as Oscar de la Hoya himself attended Pacquiao’s fight in Kuala Lumpur and had to be impressed with the knockout win over his protégé Matthysse. Top Rank still has a relationship with Pacquiao as it took care of the broadcast rights in North America for the Kuala Lumpur fight. Top Rank’s fighters include two possible opponents WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford and WBA lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
Pacquiao’s leading candidate for a December opponent seems to be Amir Khan who’s backed up by Matchroom Promotions’ Eddie Hearn. But to firm up his place in the lottery, Khan must beat Colombian Samuel Vargas in Birmingham on Sept. 8. Vargas isn’t known as a powerful puncher with only 14 KOs in a 29-3-2 record so he could be a safe opponent for Khan whose weakness is a glass jaw. Besides, Hearn wouldn’t have picked Vargas to face Khan if he had a puncher’s chance of scoring an upset. There are bigger things that Hearn has in mind for Khan beyond Vargas.
Former WBO lightwelterweight titleholder Chris Algieri said Khan would be a difficult opponent for Pacquiao because he’s quicker with combinations and faster on his feet. Pacquiao’s Australian conditioning coach Justin Fortune, however, disagreed and said Khan is a perfect choice as he wouldn’t be able to take the Filipino’s power.
What makes Khan an attractive opponent is Hearn’s support. Last May, Hearn announced the launch of an on-demand streaming service called Dazn with a $1 Billion budget for boxing over eight years. Hearn’s partners in Dazn include Spotify founder Simon Denyer and former ESPN head John Skipper. Hearn said the plan is to stage 12 major fight cards a year, including four pay-per-view “monsters” to be available free to Dazn subscribers. He said his target is to sign up fighters without contractual ties to any promoter and mentioned as options IBF welterweight ruler Errol Spence, “super” WBA welterweight king Keith Thurman and WBC/IBF lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia. It’s interesting that Spence, Thurman and Garcia could be candidates to fight Pacquiao next year.
If Pacquiao fights Khan in December, it’s possible that the “Big One” in 2019 would be against Spence or Thurman or Garcia or even Floyd Mayweather, Jr. if the money’s right for the unbeaten fighter who’s now retired but who has un-retired at least thrice in the past.
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