Khan claims he and Pacquiao will fight in Saudi Arabia
The British fighter won the WBC international welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Billy Dib in Jeddah.
Amir Khan claims he and Manny Pacquiao have both signed up for a fight and is targeting a meeting in Riyad later this year with Amnesty International calling on the Briton to speak out on Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues.
The 32-year-old says the pair have both agreed terms with Riyadh the venue for a long-awaited bout.
Khan won the WBC international welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Billy Dib in Jeddah on Friday night.
Now he intends to return to Saudi Arabia on November 8 to face former sparring partner Pacquiao, if the Filipino comes through unscathed against Keith Thurman in their WBA welterweight title fight in Las Vegas this weekend.
Thank you for all the support. Fight 39. Big thanks to my team Bones Adam @ArizaFitness1 and hector. @SBLHitHarder for putting on a great show in Jeddah. Many more to come in Saudi Arabia. All the best @BillyDib hope u come back stronger. Who should I fight next? pic.twitter.com/OZwTiNZLrT— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) July 13, 2019
“The next fight is going to be back in Saudi Arabia, it is going to be in Riyadh this time and it is going to be on November 8,” Khan told PA.
“Hopefully it could be the Manny Pacquiao fight, we have both signed and the fight is done and hopefully he gets past his fight on the weekend then we go and do that fight.
We have both signed and the fight is done. Amir Khan
“If not there will be other back-up plans but we wish Manny Pacquiao all the very best for this weekend’s fight.”
Pacquiao is the favourite to see off Thurman on Saturday night but Khan believes their bout penciled in for later in the year would still happen if the 40-year-old was to lose at the MGM Grand.
Khan said: “If he gets injured or loses, what happens there?
“I still think, even if he loses, it is a very big fight in the Middle East, there has been so much talk about it for many years.
“I just feel that Manny is himself and doesn’t get any injuries and the fight can happen.”
Asked about his personal relationship with Pacquiao, Khan said that would have to be put to one side when they touch gloves at some point in the future.
“We are friends,” he added.
“The respect is always there but it is a business and sometimes friends have to fight each other.
“Once you are in the ring you switch on, it is the same with Manny Pacquiao, we have to go in there and see who the best is.
“I can see the press conferences being very chilled and calm and not outspoken but let’s see what happens.”
Hosting another of his fights in Saudi Arabia will see Khan again have to defend the decision to take boxing to a country with human rights issues.
Felix Jakens, the head of campaigns at Amnesty International UK, has called on Khan to address such issues in and around his potential fight with Pacquiao.
“An experienced sporting star like Amir Khan will presumably realise that accepting a fight in Saudi Arabia will inevitably mean the country’s abysmal human rights record will become a focus of the fight,” he said in a statement.
“Saudi Arabia is in the grip of a sweeping crackdown against critics of the government, human rights defenders and women’s rights activists, while the Saudi air force continues to bomb homes, hospitals, and marketplaces in neighbouring Yemen.
Amir should go with his eyes firmly open and be prepared to speak about human rights issues wherever possible. Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK
“Amir should go with his eyes firmly open and be prepared to speak about human rights issues wherever possible.
“By speaking out on Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record, Amir can show some support for those being repressed in the country and also help counteract the intended ‘sports washing’ that the Saudi authorities clearly hope will occur when they host events like this one.”