According to PacMan's recent announcement on social media, Team Pacquiao is negotiating with Amir Khan for a possible May 20th bout. And yes, Pacquiao vs Khan is the more likely scenario now.
So what happened? Why is Pacquiao fighting Khan instead of Horn?
1. The money simply isn't there for Pacquiao vs Horn
Team Pacquiao's reluctance to sign on the dotted line to make the Horn fight official says a lot.
In fact, Pacquiao vs Horn is reminiscent of Khan’s fight saga with Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and early 2014. At times it seemed Mayweather vs Khan was so close to being made official. In fact, several media outlets reported the fight was a done deal.
However, something was keeping Team Mayweather from signing on the dotted line.
... Floyd would eventually face Marcos Maidana instead.
After many weeks of negotiation and speculation, Pacquiao vs Horn was never truly confirmed. It was apparently close to happening at times but Team Pacquiao refused to seal the deal. And then there was chaos surrounding the venue and location.
Why all the confusion?
Jeff Horn isn't a big name and Team Pacquiao, thus far, hasn't found a strategy they believe will generate enough revenue to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Manny Pacquiao is accustomed to high paydays and a fight with Jeff Horn at this moment, regardless of the location, may not meet PacMan's minimum salary expectations.
2. Amir Khan is a big name who can generate interest internationally and among casual fans
Name recognition in boxing, like politics, means a lot and Amir Khan, like him or not, is easily one of the biggest names in boxing and a fairly mainstream athlete internationally.
Let's follow the money again... There's no American interest in Pacquiao vs Horn so that market would be eliminated should PacMan face the Aussie. As a result, The Philippines and Australia would have to shoulder the burden for that fight alone.
However, a Pacquiao vs Khan fight in Abu Dhabi creates added, more stable revenue streams. Pay-per-views would sell in the United Kingdom and United States and Khan, as a devout Muslim, would create a much bigger buzz in Abu Dhabi than Horn.
Should Pacquiao face Khan, the Australian revenue stream would be replaced by income streams generated by the UK and US, as well as heightened interest in Abu Dhabi.
Fact: Last May's bout between Khan and Canelo
Alvarez yielded about 600,000 buys in the U.S.
3. Pacquiao is Khan's best option
Apparently, the Khan vs Kell Brook negotiations got nowhere and, as a result, the fighters' teams are not likely to come to terms anytime soon. PacMan vs Khan is Amir’s most lucrative, most high profile fight at the moment.
4. Khan's stock/leverage makes negotiations easier
Should Amir face Manny in May, the former will not have fought in a year. Couple that with his knockout loss to the naturally larger, stronger Canelo Alvarez in his most recent bout and the fact Amir is not even recognized among RING Magazone's top 5 welterweights, and the British star is not in a position to demand an unrealistic purse.
RING Magazine Welterweight rankings
(as of Feb 23, 2017)
1. Kell Brook
2. Keith Thurman
3. Shawn Porter
4. Manny Pacquiao (He should be No. 1 or 2)
5. Tim Bradley
6. Amir Khan
5. The storyline
Pacquiao and Khan share a history and, perhaps, some bad blood towards each other.
A former pupil of Pacquiao mentor Freddie Roach, Khan used to train with Manny. In fact, they were buddies who often sparred with each other. But after Khan left Roach a few years ago, the Manny-Amir relationship seemed to sour. In fact, in January 2015 Khan raised just as many eyebrows as doubts, insisting he whopped Manny when they sparred.
"I remember the wars I used to have [with Manny Pacquiao] in the Wild Card gym...I thought it was good to do that. With me and Pacquiao, it was war," asserted Khan.
"Most of the time, I used to get the better of him. I've got videos of that (to prove it)...He knows deep down what happened in sparring."
Any reason why Pacquiao vs Khan may not happen?
Pacquiao vs Khan would be lucrative but there's one drawback on PacMan’s end... Unlike Jeff Horn, Amir Khan is a high-risk opponent who, stylistically, matches up well with Manny.
Khan is quicker, stronger and more athletic and polished than relatively recent Pacquiao foes Chris Algieri and Jessie Vargas so Senator Pacquiao would have to bring his A-game.
If Pacquiao vs Khan doesn't happen, it would likely be because trainer Roach and others on Manny's team weren't confident PacMan could maintain his senatorial duties and still dedicate the necessary time and focus required to prepare for an elite opponent like Khan.