A HEALTHY Manny Pacquiao is expected to return to the ring in 2016 and will have no less than former stablemate and sparmate Amir Khan as possible opponent.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum disclosed he can arrange to have the two former champions fight each other next year either in the Middle East or Las Vegas, marking the Filipino’s comeback after undergoing surgery last summer to repair his injured shoulder.
Arum bared the Pacquiao-Khan showdown in an interview with Gareth Davies of the Telegraph.
“I can arrange for Khan to fight Pacquiao. Amir Khan has been begging (Floyd) Mayweather for a fight and now he can get a major fight. I'm not a hard guy to deal with. I'm not going to mess them around,” said Arum.
Khan, a silver medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics, was hoping to get a shot at the 38-year-old Mayweather after the unbeaten American scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Pacquiao last May.
But Mayweather ignored Khan and instead picked Andre Berto as his next opponent in what he said would be his final fight as a pro on September 12.
Arum described the Mayweather-Berto duel a ‘farce,’ and sees a much more competitive fight in a Pacquiao-Khan meeting.
“Mayweather should have fought Khan next. It would have been an interesting fight. One thing's for sure, Pacquiao is not ducking Khan. Pacquiao will fight him. I don't know if Khan will fight Pacquiao, but it's available,” said the 83-year-old Top Rank executive.
Pacquiao, 36, is currently undergoing rehab for his torn rotator cuff that was repaired last May after aggravating it during his fight against Mayweather.
Khan, 28, meanwhile, is on a five-fight winning streak, the latest of which was a unanimous decision over American Chris Algieri – the same fighter Pacquiao knocked down six times on the way to a dominant win in their welterweight title match in 2014 in Macau.
The possible fight with Khan, a former light-welterweight champion, likewise ruled out Pacquiao returning to the ring by the end of the year.
“Manny's not going to fight this year. He'll fight early next year and probably in the Middle East,” Arum stressed.
“Vegas is a possibility, but more likely in the Middle East. It won't be in Dubai but it will be in the Middle East. If not, we'll do it in Vegas.”
Pacquiao and Khan once shared the same trainer in Freddie Roach and sparred against each other several times in Baguio and the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles as the two of them prepared for their respective title fights in the past.