TOP Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum admitted Manny Pacquiao may be headed to United Arab Emirates for a possible title fight with former world champion and sparmate Amir Khan.
As to whether the bout will come together, is a rather different story.
The veteran promoter remained skeptical on whether the 12-round showdown being pushed for a May 20 date can go on as scheduled given the huge amount of money needed to make it happen.
“Whether it will happen or not, I just don’t know because they have to come up with a large amount of money,” Arum said in an interview with ESPN. “Manny seems to believe they will come up with the money. I have some reservations whether it will happen or not.”
Arum’s remark came after Pacquiao, 38, announced on social media ongoing talks with the camp of Khan for a title showdown this summer, reportedly involving a deal worth $38 million.
‘My team and I are in negotiations with Amir Khan for our next fight,” said the Filipino senator in his official Twitter account @mannypacquiao. “Further announcement coming soon. #TeamPacquiao."
The announcement came as a shock as Arum had earlier proclaimed Top Rank Promotions already reached a deal with New Zealand promotional outfit Duco Events for the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion to fight Australian Jeff Horn on April 23.
Khan suddenly entering the picture is just the latest countermove Pacquiao and his team had against Arum.
After Duco Events - in talks with Top Rank - declared it has landed the most significant fight in Australian boxing history by revealing the Pacquiao-Horn bout will be held in Brisbane, the eighth-time world division champion announced plans to hold his next match in the United Arab Emirates.
“See you in UAE for my next fight. #TeamPacquiao,” he tweeted.
The 83-year-old Arum himself appeared to have conceded Australia – and Horn for that matter – won’t be having a piece of Pacquiao for the moment. He disclosed that while the Australian deal also involved a lot of money – reportedly less than $10 million – it sure paled in comparison with what the group of Pacquiao is pursuing for a fight in UAE.
“The Australian deal is not going to happen now, because Manny is trying to get a fight done in the United Arab Emirates, and the people there favor him fighting Amir Khan,” said Arum.
Although born in Manchester, England, Khan, 30, is a Muslim and of Pakistani descent.
The former World Boxing Association (WBA) light-welterweight champ also topped the survey posted by Pacquiao on his Twitter account about who his fans prefer to fight him next. Out of the 44,815 who voted, Khan received 48 percent of the votes, followed by Kell Brook (24 percent), Terrence Crawford (21 percent), and Horn (7 percent).
Brook is the current International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title holder, while Crawford is the unified WBO and World Boxing Council (WBC) light-welterweight champion.
Khan (31-4, with 19 KOs) last fought in May of 2016 when he was knocked out cold in the sixth round by world middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.
Not unless the money is on the table and papers have been signed, Arum said he’ll remain skeptical about Pacquiao facing Khan.
“If it’s real, we will assist putting on the event, but I am not holding my breath, and I’m not making plane reservations,” he stressed.