Welterweight world titleholder Manny Pacquiao announced Wednesday night that he is negotiating his next fight to be against Amir Khan.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, has made a deal with Duco Events, a New Zealand promotional company he has close ties to, for Pacquiao to defend the 147-pound belt against Australia's Jeff Horn on April 22 in Brisbane, Australia.
However, Pacquiao and adviser Michael Koncz have also been talking to an unnamed group about bringing Pacquiao's next fight to the United Arab Emirates, and Pacquiao said 10 days ago that his next bout would be in the UAE.
Then on Wednesday night, he said England's Khan, a well-known name and former junior welterweight titleholder who is of Pakistani descent, was the opponent he hoped to fight.
"My team and I are in negotiations with Amir Khan for our next fight. Further announcement coming soon," Pacquiao wrote on social media.
In fact, Pacquiao, boxing's only eight-division world titleholder who outpointed Jessie Vargas to reclaim a welterweight world title in a dominant performance on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas, had previously said he had never heard of Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), a 2012 Australian Olympian. On Wednesday night, Arum told ESPN that the deal in Australia had fallen apart because of Pacquiao's desire to chase the money in the UAE.
"The Australian deal is not going to happen now, because Manny is trying to get a fight done in the United Arab Emirates and the people there favor him fighting Amir Khan," Arum said.
However, Arum, who has been down the road of potential fights in exotic locations for boatloads of money many times during his 50-year career, said he was extremely skeptical.
"Whether it will happen or not, I just don't know, because they have to come up with a large amount of money," Arum said. "Manny seems to believe they will come up with the money. I have some reservations whether it will happen or not. If the money comes up, I will aid and abet the fight happening. But right now, I'm holding my powder. I don't really know."
May 20 has been the rumored date for a possible Pacquiao-Khan fight, but Arum said even if the bout happens, it won't be then.
"May 20 is a non-starter. The senate in the Philippines [in which Pacquiao serves] is in session then," Arum said. "Maybe in April or maybe June, but not May."
May 20 is also the date on which Top Rank has another major fight scheduled -- with unified junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford -- which is another obstacle for the 38-year-old Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), since Top Rank won't promote another bout on the same day.
Khan (31-4, 19 KOs), 30, has been trying for the past few years to land a fight with either Pacquiao -- whom he knows very well and has sparred countless rounds with when they were both trained by Freddie Roach -- or Floyd Mayweather. Khan has been close but been the bridesmaid multiple times. He has not fought since May, when he moved up two weight classes from welterweight and challenged then-middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez at a catchweight of 155 pounds and was spectacularly knocked out cold in the sixth round.
Arum has worked on the deal in Australia for the past couple of months and does not believe the UAE deal is legitimate.
"The Australian deal was a lot of money, but it paled in comparison to the ... money they're supposedly offering -- $38 million," Arum said derisively of the deal Pacquiao is pursuing. "I'm a practical man. The money in Australia wasn't anywhere near $38 million. What do I know? We live in an alternative reality world. I don't know what the story is. If the $38 million is real, it trumps the Australia deal. If it's real, we will assist putting on the event, but I am not holding my breath and I'm not making plane reservations.
"We'll see what we see. If the $38 million comes up, the fight will take place and we'll all be happy. And if it doesn't, there will be one guy who won't be surprised."