Amir Khan vs Manny Pacquiao: UAE knockout for boxing's 'duel in desert'
The next mega boxing showdown is likely to be held in the Middle East between British fighter Amir Khan and Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has offered Khan the chance to fight Pacquiao early next year and will open talks with the Bolton fighter's management this week, according to The Telegraph.
A Khan-Pacquiao showdown has always been on the cards with both of them discussing the possibility during a meeting in London earlier this year.
"I really believe that fight can be made quite easily. I think Manny is a man and he would definitely take the fight," said Khan has been repeatedly shunned by unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr., who will take on Andre Berto in Las Vegas on September 12.
"Amir Khan has been begging Mayweather for a fight and now he can get a major fight. I can arrange for Khan to fight Pacquiao," Arum told the Telegraph.
"He'll fight early next year and probably in the Middle East. Vegas is a possibility, but more likely in the Middle East," said Pacquiao's promoter Arum.
Pac-Man who underwent surgery on his right shoulder after being beaten by Mayweather in the so-called 'Fight of the Century' on May 2, will be ready to return to the ring in 2016.
While he criticised Mayweather for avoiding Khan as an opponent in his 49th - and likely his last - fight, the 83-year-old said there was no chance of his man pulling a similar stunt.
"One thing's for sure, Pacquiao is not ducking Khan,” Arum said.
"Pacquiao will fight him. I don't know if Khan will fight Pacquiao, but it's available."
Fight in UAE
The Khan-Pacquiao showdown could take place in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
“We are putting together an HBO show ‘live’ in prime time Dubai later this year featuring at least two world championship fights with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. During the week of that show, we would do a major tribute to Ali.
“We expect Pacquiao in March against Amir Khan who is our first preference,” M Akbar Muhammad, president of Akbar Productions LLC based in New Jersey, USA, said in an exclusive interview with Emirates 24|7.
Arum confirmed that Akbar Productions, LLC, has been tasked with bringing big time boxing to the UAE, including a match between Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao and British boxer Amir Khan.
"I just had a delegation in from Dubai trying to talk to me about a Manny Pacquiao fight sometime early next year in Dubai," Arum said speaking to the Telegraph in May. "That would be interesting.
"One of the names they suggested as an opponent is Amir Khan. That would be a possibility. We'll have to see. I would think that Manny, if everything goes right with the surgery, would look to be back in early 2016, maybe in Dubai. I don't want to rush him.
"Apparently there's great interest from Dubai in doing big-time boxing there. With Emirates airline making regular flights from the UK to Dubai, it's a great place for British fight fans to watch a fight."
"Right now we are planning November event. Hopefully Manny will come to it as a guest.
“We will have three of four title fights on the same night. It will be a spectacular event. If it is successful we will look forward to doing a Pacquiao fight in Dubai next year," said Arum in an exclusive interview with Emirates 24|7.
"Manny is also an adventurer. He has always talked to me about fighting in Dubai. He always talked to me about it. He had visited Dubai.
“You got to understand so many Filipinos work in that area, so he feels at home being over there," added Arum.
M Akbar Muhammad, a close aide of Arum, virtually pitched camp in Dubai and held talks with senior officials in the UAE to drum up interest to hold big fights in the UAE at least twice a year.
In fact, after the Mayweather-Pacquiao 'Fight of the Century' he later disclosed during an interview with Emirates 24|7 that they were drawing up plans for an HBO event in November and Pacquaio-Khan bout next year.
“I deliberately didn’t go to Vegas. I came here because I wanted to see with my own eyes what the interest here was like. Every place was sold out. You couldn’t find a place to get in.
“What I saw on Sunday (May 3) morning, gave me lot more determination. I’ve always had this focus here,” said Akbar who was earlier tasked by an investment group from Abu Dhabi to bring the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to the UAE.
“Pacquiao is locked in to fight definitely against a world class opponent. I’d rather have Khan with Pacquiao in March," said Akbar, a former vice-president of Top Rank.
The March fight date is ideally suited for the UAE with Dubai hosting the biggest sporting event in the calendar for the richest horse race in the world at Meydan.
The Khan-Pacquiao showdown in the UAE would be a sell-out because there is a huge Filipino community and thousands of British expats working in Dubai.
Khan for his part would not feel deprived of home advantage because he could garner support from the Asian community because of his Pakistani origins.
Mayweather may be waltzing his way into the history, but boxing fans in the UAE can look forward to the next 'Big Fight'.
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