By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao’s first knockout victory in nearly nine years immediately initiated talk of high-profile, difficult fights for the Filipino legend.
The 39-year-old Pacquiao confirmed during the post-fight press conference following his seventh-round technical knockout of Lucas Matthysse on Sunday that Amir Khan is a potential opponent for his next fight. The newly crowned WBA world welterweight champion also acknowledged that he will consider facing two of the top boxers in the sport, Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“Yes, [Khan] is a potential opponent,” Pacquiao said Sunday. “There’s a lot of potential opponents, like Crawford, Lomachenko. There are so many fighters that are potential opponents.”
A Pacquiao-Crawford fight has been discussed for a few years, but Pacquiao’s former trainer, Freddie Roach, didn’t want that fight for Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs). The 30-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) won the WBO welterweight title last month from Jeff Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs), who upset Pacquiao a year ago to take that title in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
Crawford is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Pacquiao’s longtime promoter. Top Rank didn’t promote the Pacquiao-Matthysse match Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but Pacquiao-Crawford seemingly is a makeable bout.
Crawford would be heavily favored to beat Pacquiao, even after Pacquiao’s impressive performance against Argentina’s Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs, 1 NC).
Crawford is expected to make the first defense of his WBO welterweight title October 13 in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Phoenix’s Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs) and Lithuania’s Egidijus Kavaliauskas (20-0, 16 KOs) are among the opponents Arum is considering for Crawford’s next fight.
Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is recovering from shoulder surgery performed May 30. The WBA lightweight champion is not expected to fight again until December.
Arum repeatedly has expressed interest in making a Pacquiao-Lomachenko fight at 140 pounds, which would require Pacquiao to move down in weight and Lomachenko to move up.
England’s Khan thought he and Pacquiao had a deal to fight in April 2017 in the United Arab Emirates. That fight fell through, though, and Khan since has signed a three-fight contract with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.
The 31-year-old Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) is scheduled to battle Colombia’s Samuel Vargas (29-3-2, 14 KOs) on September 8 in Birmingham, England. Khan still wants to fight Pacquiao, which gives him an alternative to boxing Kell Brook (37-2, 26 KOs) in what would be a lucrative event in the United Kingdom.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.