Amir Khan has his guard up now as he sees his name linked to Manny Pacquiao again.
“Yes, Pacquiao would be a great fight and any fighter would want to face him. But look, I’ve been chasing these fights for a long, long time and I’m so sick of chasing fights,” Khan told the Los Angeles Times after concluding a training session Monday evening in Van Nuys.
“From a [Danny] Garcia rematch to the [Floyd] Mayweather situation — being No. 1 with the WBC and that fight not happening — to Pacquiao again … I’m just sick and tired of waiting around and hoping for a fight,” Khan said. “So now I’m just going to go with the flow … if it’s Pacquiao, it’s Pacquiao, but if it’s not, we’ll go to someone else.”
England’s former junior-welterweight world champion, Khan (32-4, 20 knockouts) is currently preparing for a Sept. 8 welterweight bout in Birmingham, England, versus Colombia’s Samuel Vargas (29-3-2, 14 KOs).
The expectation is that the World Boxing Assn. will declare the fight an eliminator for the new welterweight belt won by Pacquiao in his seventh-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse on July 14 in Malaysia.
Pacquiao, a former stablemate of Khan’s when they both trained under Freddie Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, has mentioned Khan as a possible next opponent along with lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and unbeaten welterweight world champion Terence Crawford. Mayweather (50-0) shoots to the front of the line should he decide to return from retirement again at age 41.
Khan, who sought a fight with Pacquiao last year that collapsed along with sought-after Middle East financing, now has strong reasons to appeal to Pacquiao.
Khan’s 2016 knockout loss to then-light-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez generated more than 500,000 pay-per-view buys in the U.S., and he’s now promoted by U.K. promoter Eddie Hearn, who’s launching a $1-billion U.S. streaming venture, DAZN, in September.
“Talks of Manny Pacquiao and [England’s former welterweight champion] Kell Brook — these are fights that can make tens and tens of millions …. I’m with the right team and happy with Eddie with SkySports in the U.K. and this big platform in the U.S.,” Khan said.
Khan returned from the Alvarez payday to align with San Fernando Valley-based veteran trainer Joe Goossen and produced a first-round knockout of Phil Lo Greco in April.
“He’s very old school and he’s taken me back to my fundamentals. Where I’d make the smallest mistakes, he’ll say, ‘Sometimes those small mistakes can be a big lesson in the fight,’” Khan said. “We’ve gone back to the foundation and it’s made me a better fighter, inside out. He not only tells me the fight plan, he explains why we’re doing it.
“Joe’s a great trainer. Taking two years out and coming back with the big bang, that’s what I did with Joe. He gets right into your mind and makes you focus and understand what you have to do and what you shouldn’t do. A lot of trainers tell you things. Joe reminds me of my old amateur trainer. He doesn’t care that I’m Amir Khan, he just wants me to be a better fighter. This is a great match. He pushes and motivates me.”
At 31, Khan said he’s embracing the urgency to maximize his best years after overcoming a nagging hand injury.
“I want to keep myself busy for the next couple years because I think I’ve got two more good years in me that I can push it hard,” Khan said. “I feel better now than when I was 28.”
The maturing has taught Khan not to obsess on what’s next, even though he and Goossen agree that a Dec. 2 opening for a Pacquiao bout “would be the biggest feasible fight on U.K. soil,” according to Goossen.
“It’s possible. You have to remember, a lot of things are said, but when it comes down to it … it’s all in God’s hands,” Khan said.
“Plus, I have to get past this fight — not only win, but look good. Samuel Vargas is going to be thinking, ‘Amir’s thinking he’s going to walk right through me, thinking he’s got a Manny Pacquiao fight and I’m going to catch him.’ So I don’t want to be thinking about anything after this when I’ve got this one coming.
“There are amazing fights possible, but it depends on the circumstances. A lot of things still have to happen. It’s a business, with TV rights, promoters, the money … such a headache. Let’s see what happens.”