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Pacquiao backs Khan to face Mayweather in 2011

Sam the Eagle is talking about fighting Money Mayweather next year. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)
Sam the Eagle is talking about fighting Money Mayweather next year. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)
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The BBC has an interesting story up right now on Amir Khan, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao. Khan, the 23-year-old junior welterweight titlist, thinks he'll be ready to fight Mayweather in a year's time, and says he's backed by Pacquiao.

"Manny thinks it will be a good fight because he's trained with me, sparred with me, he really thinks I'm good enough to fight Mayweather now.

"But I think in the next 12 months, when I get even better and with more experience, I think I'll be in better condition to fight him then.

"This is a timing game and I want to fight him when I think I'm ready, not when he's ready and I'm not. I want to fight him when we're both ready and when I've hit my peak."

Khan and Pacquiao, of course, both train under the renowned Freddie Roach, and have sparred together often since Khan joined Roach's stable in late 2008.

I know this will sound crazy to a lot of people, but I actually think Khan is one of the best matchups in boxing for Mayweather. Mayweather is going to turn 34 in February, has a history of nagging injuries that are likely slowing him down as we speak, hasn't stayed active the last few years, and hasn't faced someone with Khan's natural physical abilities (at least not still intact) in a long time, if ever. Mayweather has never fought someone with Khan's hand speed, and Khan is a couple of inches taller than Floyd, too.

Khan still has his "haters" or doubters, but we're talking about a fighter with an Olympic pedigree who basically has had one really awful round as a pro where he got caught flat against a guy who can punch. Khan's chin is not good, but under Roach he's learned to better protect his fatal flaw. Over the years, Mayweather has also sacrificed punching power for the sake of healthy hands, and while he can still crack when he needs to, he might not find the openings as easily against a young, talented, and confident fighter like Khan the way he did against an old Shane Mosley or the limited Ricky Hatton.

No doubt Mayweather would have to be heavily favored, and I do believe Mayweather would win, unless Floyd had the absolute, bar none worst night of his career. But when you think about who Floyd is going to fight next, what else sounds interesting? Obviously the fight everyone still wants is Manny Pacquiao, but I just don't think that fight is going to happen. Khan, unlike Pacquiao, fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, meaning Bob Arum wouldn't be involved, and that likely would make things a bit easier. Not that I'm blaming Arum for that fight not happening, but his relationship with Team Mayweather is not exactly smooth these days.

Other than Manny, the cupboard is bare. Welterweight is a dead zone for name fighters, and should Khan survive a December 11 fight with Marcos Maidana, he'll have the most US TV hype behind him of anyone at 140. Part of that is also affected by the fact that he fights for Golden Boy. His competitors at 140 are Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, who face each other in January and are promoted by Gary Shaw and Don King, respectively.

The situation is almost too good to not work out if everyone were serious about making the fight happen. Frankly, it's this or something less appealing, like a Mosley rematch.

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