KT Exclusive: Will friends turn foes in Dubai?
Eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao of MPBL All Stars in action against Dubai All Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League at Ha.mdan Sports Complex on Friday. - Shihab
Dubai - An Amir Khan-Manny Pacquiao fight always piques interest but will it see the light of day?
They were friends, they still are. They were sparring partners too, back in the day, before their careers took different paths.
One is a unified light-welterweight champion and the other a champion in eight divisions. Having created their own niche in the world of boxing, fans have always wondered when the pair would cross paths.
British boxing champion Amir Khan and Filipino ace Manny Pacquiao squaring off has been many, many years in the making with but it has never come about, until now that is.
It has more or less been a peekaboo, or to give a better analogy, being teased for a candy but not quite getting it.
As recently as July, Khan had said Pacquiao had agreed for a fight in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, slated for November. But as it turned out, the news didn't hold much water.
After a bit of a lull, Pacquiao stoked the fire in Dubai on Thursday by saying the Emirate is a prime destination for his fight, most probably with Khan.
Calling out each other is quite common in boxing and it has been happening ever since the sport became popular.
And while 'King' Khan said that it would be "huge" to fight with Manny in Dubai, the 32-year-old, reiterated it won't be the be all and end all.
"There are few options that we are looking at the moment but with Manny Pacquiao, I think, I'm just always wasting my time because he's always promising to fight me and then it never happens," Khan exclusively told the Khaleej Times on Friday.
"We have offered him the fight many times and he's never really accepted it. I mean, we are friends, and it is a business, we know that. But, I wish him all the very best if he doesn't fight me. So be it, but I would love to fight him because he's a great champion, he's a legend in the sport," he added.
Khan, who won the WBC international welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Billy Dib in the Kingdom, said it would be massive to have the fight in Dubai but it will take a lot more than just interest.
"(Floyd) Mayweather never gave me the chance, Pacquiao previously hasn't give me a chance. But it will make sense doing it in Dubai because now we saw that my first fight in the Middle East was in Saudi Arabia. I was the first big name to go there and now, Anthony Joshua has followed in my footsteps to fight in Saudi Arabia," Khan said.
"Maybe, I could be the first to start Dubai as well, with Manny Pacquiao. That will be a huge fight because there is a big Pakistani and big British expat community in the UAE. And also, there is a big Filipino community. I think it will help promote the sport and it will promote Dubai as well. People will get to know what Dubai is all about. Being from England and him being from the Philippines and having a huge audience in Dubai, it will definitely be one of the fights Dubai will love to have. We want the fight but let's see what happens," Khan, who has Pakistani roots, added.
Khan though said he now won't repeat the mistake of waiting for a billing with Pacquiao.
"I would love to fight with Manny Pacquiao and let's see what happens. But like I said, I'm not going to hold tight for that fight because always I've been promised it and it never happened. So, I'm not going to put my eggs in one basket, I'm going to look out for options as well," he signed off.
Fans are eager for the fight to finally see the light of day. Pacquiao indicated that it could be late next year and if it does take place, it would be a watershed moment not just for the UAE and Dubai, but the entire Middle East region. A stellar cast involving Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao will be epic, especially after Abu Dhabi hosted a top UFC fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.
Possibly venues could be the 17,000-seater Coca Cola Arena located in the City Walk or the Caesars Palace in Bluewaters.