Admittedly, the name of such a promotion would need some work, but a theoretical match-up between Manny Pacquiao and Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan gives even the most assured boxing ‘experts’ something of a dilemma. There were, indeed, strong rumours of a fight between the two earlier this year, originating from each man’s official Twitter account. Pencilled in for April 23, it was to be designated a ‘superfight’, with locations in the UK, the US and the UAE mooted as possible locales.
Ultimately, an agreement could not be reached between parties, and Pacquiao was instead slated to fight Jeff Horn on July 2.
Dietary RequirementsGetting the correct nutrition is also paramount, for any fighter. Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is a prime example of what can be achieved through a shrewd diet. Joshua is unusually lean for a heavyweight, despite consuming as much as 5,000 calories on a more intensive training day, according to a study. The vast majority of those calories are proteins (five poached eggs for breakfast, two salmon fillets for lunch and a whole chicken for dinner) and the complex carbohydrates found in porridge, wholemeal toast and jacket potatoes. The diet of Amir Khan does not differ drastically from Joshua's, employing those two food groups with the same intensity - though scaled down for his weight category. In the opposite corner, Pacquiao, as once documented on SBNation, has been known to take an uncompromising approach to protein consumption, with five protein shakes and a 7,000 calorie intake. Clearly, such a bold diet has not affected Pacquiao's famous ability to throw quickfire combinations.
If the same routines were to be followed by each fighter today, in advance of this fantasy bout, then the emphasis would clearly on conditioning over energy, with both camps anticipating a long, hard slog rather than a quick result. This would only serve to make an astute prediction even harder.
Verdict: Khan by DecisionTo stand any chance of prevailing over Pacquiao, Khan would need to counter-punch effectively and avoid becoming another victim of the classic ‘rope-a-dope’ tactic. Working in Khan’s favour is his ability to last the distance and know his own limitations, adopting a more conservative style since losing to Danny Garcia in July 2012. As a result, five of his last six bouts have ended in a victory by unanimous decision according to Boxrec, and a similar approach could see the older Pacquiao tire before time in the event of this bout ever being commissioned. Though gifted a far superior reach over Pacquiao, Khan often shows an inexplicable reluctance to take key opportunities at long range. With some moderation of his conservative style, Khan would be well placed to render Pacquiao’s speed and savagery useless in the latter stages of any fight.
Even at the ripe age of 38, Manny Pacquiao is still being targeted by several boxers aiming to prove themselves in front of a world audience. Terrence Crawford, in the wake of May 20’s TKO title unification win over Dominican contender Felix Diaz – his 21st KO in 30 victories according to TopRank – is the latest man to call out the esteemed eight-division title winner. After a quickfire comeback from ‘retirement’, following his April 2016 win over Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao has been a revelation, stronger than ever after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr in May 2015. The confidence shown in Pacquiao, ahead of his most recent fight with Jessie Vargas is a testament to the esteem in which he is still universally held.
After winning Olympic silver at Athens 2004, Amir Khan became Britain’s most exciting, and hyped, boxer in a generation, and he enjoyed a purple patch after turning pro in 2005, winning fight after fight with style and swagger. Then, in September 2008, he was stopped in his tracks by Breidis Prescott, lasting less than a minute against the Colombian en route to losing the WBO inter-continental lightweight title. It was a premature strike against Khan’s perceived immortality, but in true, warrior-like fashion, he would regain his usual powers. After winning the vacant WBA international lightweight title, Khan proved he was no ‘paper champion’ and enjoyed another four years of supremacy, in that time also making a hugely successful transition to light-welterweight. Though defeated in his last fight, on May 7, 2016, against seasoned middleweight Canelo Alvarez, Khan is still well placed to make a successful return to the welterweight division.
Admittedly, this fight would not hold the same gravitas as Pacquiao’s 2015 clash against Mayweather, in which, as noted by Statistics Brain, the Filipino bagged nine figures – and that was also without a win bonus. Where Pacquiao v Khan is concerned, picking a winner with confidence would be a near-impossible task, and any bettor would have to weigh up the age versus experience conundrum in order to stay in pocket. While both fighters possess the ability to open up with devastating combinations, the younger Khan will be stronger on the whole for his recent experience in the middleweight division, even if it was a chastening one.