What Year Is This? Manny Pacquiao And Amir Khan Could Meet In The Ring

A fight nobody has asked for in a decade
07:00, 26 Jul 2023

Reports have emerged suggesting Manny Pacquiao is in talks for a fight with Amir Khan. No, you haven’t fallen into a timewarp and ended up in 2010. This is an actual bout being talked about in the year of our lord, 2023. The question of why is answered by the obvious. Money makes the world go round, especially so in boxing. What other sport would deliver a counterproductive meeting between its heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and an athlete from another sport in Francis Ngannou?

Boxing doesn’t have a senior’s tour like golf and tennis. There is a good reason for that. Getting punched in the face repeatedly isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle and the risk of permanent injury increases with age. Ageless wonders like George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins aside, boxing is no country for old men.


But try telling that to today’s veterans. In the past three years alone we have seen Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr, Evander Holyfield, David Haye, Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez try to turn back the clock in either exhibitions or pro fights. The results have been mixed. Tyson broke pay-per-view records for his return. Holyfield got knocked out cold in his. 

On the surface, the idea of Khan fighting Pacquiao is less distasteful than some of the fights that have gone before it. After all, Khan last fought in 2022 while ‘Pacman’ had his final pro bout in 2021. But Pacquiao is a 44-year-old who made his debut in 1995. Khan meanwhile was knocked out five times in his career, two of which came in his last three fights. Neither man is even close to their prime. Arguably, both should be far away from a boxing ring at this stage in their lives.

While Pacquiao is yet to break his silence on the potential fight, Khan has hinted towards it indirectly. Speaking at a boxing event in Dubai, ‘King’ Khan said “I think there’s gonna be a massive announcement in the next week or so. I might be coming back in the ring again. I might be fighting again. It’s not gonna be a small fight, it’ll be like a super fight as well.”


Interestingly, Khan is banned from active competition until April 2024. This stems from a failed drug test in the wake of his 2022 defeat to Kell Brook. This hints that either the fight in question will take place in ten months time. Or, more likely, it will be some form of non-competitive exhibition for which anti-doping rules are not stringently enforced.

Given the way the tide of boxing is leaning, the latter is more likely. But even then, having an athlete serving a drugs ban take part in any sort of sporting activity in front of paying spectators treads a fine line. That is without getting into the futility of the exhibition model. Increasingly, these spectacles are presented as legitimate fights despite not appearing on either fighter’s official record nor even having an announced result in many cases. Khan vs Pacquiao in a fight at this stage in their lives would be a tragic sight. An exhibition would be the same but without even the slightest incentive involved beyond financial gain for the participants.

Boxing must reach a stage where it leaves the past where it is. Honour the greats, place them in the Hall of Fame. Offer better support for boxers who have fallen on hard times in retirement. But please stop wheeling the heroes of the past out at the expense of the modern greats. With Errol Spence Jr, Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue, Oleksandr Usyk and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez active, the sport no longer needs Pacquiao to don the gloves. He will always be one of the all-time greats while Khan is a British legend. Nothing they do now could enhance those reputations, but it sure could harm them. Leave the memories alone.

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