So how does the Manny Pacquiao-Amir Khan fight scheduled on April 23 fit in a scene where Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are squaring off this weekend, and Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. are brawling on May 20.
All three bouts will have a world welterweight (147 pounds) title at stake, particularly Pacquiao’s from the World Boxing Organization, Brook’s from the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and Thurman’s from the World Boxing Council (WBC) for the regular title, and the World Boxing Association (WBA) for the “super” title.
Looking at how each bout rates for being competitive and relevant, Thurman-Garcia ranks first while Brook-Spence easily lands at second. Sorry, the Pacquiao-Khan fight takes last place.
I already wrote about the Thurman-Garcia fight weeks back and Brook-Spence last week, urging boxing fans not to miss either fight. Thurman-Garcia is definitely a marquee match-up considering the protagonists are both titleholders and undefeated.
As for Brook-Spence, it features an undefeated challenger going up against one of the more durable welterweight champions whose lone defeat was at the hands of Gennady Golovkin, the undefeated knockout artist who holds three versions of the world middleweight crown.
Now what about Pacquiao-Khan?
Khan (31-4 with 19 knockouts) was one of the more promising fighters almost a decade ago until his somewhat fragile chin was exposed after Breidis Presscott knocked him out in about 30 seconds in the first round in November 2008. He recovered remarkably and even held the WBA world light welterweight (140 lbs) title and the IBF counterpart until he ran into Garcia in July 2012.
Khan was supposed to defeat the then unheralded Garcia but Garcia disposed of his opponent in four rounds. Garcia, then the WBC light welterweight champion, added the WBA title to his waist and has since become one of the rising stars in boxing’s middle divisions.
After a stoppage win over Carlos Molina in December 2012, Khan has failed to register a knockout win over his next four opponents before getting knocked out (again) by Canelo Alvarez in May last year.
So why pit Pacquiao (59-6-2 with 38 KOs) against an opponent who hit the deck for the 10-count in his recent bout and failed to stop an opponent since December 2012?
If Pacquiao intends to fight the winner of Thurman-Garcia or Brook-Spence, then there is logic to staging Pacquiao-Khan.
Or if there is any chance that Khan can win, then Pacquiao-Khan makes sense. But Khan, after his defeat to Alvarez via knockout, looks like his more competitive days are over.
Although Khan towers a bit over Pacquiao at nearly 5’9”, we have seen in the Filipino’s last fight against the 5’11” Jessie Vargas in November last year that a taller boxer cannot always provide good opposition against a shorter fighter.
And given that Khan’s chin is already in question, was he chosen so Pacquiao will have a chance of knocking him down or stopping him?
While Pacquiao-Khan can outrank Thurman-Garcia and definitely Brook-Spence when it comes to audience both at the gate and television, the last two bouts are definitely more relevant to boxing’s middle divisions in the next months or even years to come.
Let’s just hope Pacquiao takes part in a more relevant bout after Khan.