The on-again, off-again fight between WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and contender Jeff Horn took another turn last week with reports out of England that former welterweight world champion Amir Khan is in the frame to face the Filipino superstar in place of the little known Australian in the United Arab Emirates.
Ever since Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz made the surprise announcement this month that the 38 year-old senator’s next fight would take place in the UAE, the future of his bout against Horn has looked in jeopardy. But the 29 year-old former schoolteacher remains confident the fight will come to fruition and insists that the venue for the bout isn’t as important as who is standing in the opposite corner.
“This talk doesn’t really distract me because I know I will be fighting him on the 23rd [of April],” said Horn, 16-0-1 (11). “What is frustrating is Manny posting who his next fight should be.”
After Koncz broke the news of the UAE negotiations, Pacquiao’s official Twitter account was used to run a poll on who he should face next. Khan 31-4 (19) blitzed the competition with 48% of the vote, while Horn came in last with 7% behind Kell Brook at 24% and Terence Crawford, 21%.
Almost 45,000 voters participated in the poll that represented little more than name recognition sweepstakes. If Horn does land the fight with Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38) it will be the first time the seven division world champion has fought an opponent who isn’t a current or former titleholder since Jorge Solis at 130 pounds almost a decade ago.
While the speculation and pressure has continued to mount, trainer Glenn Rushton has remained focused on the task at hand.
"It has been a distraction to some degree," said Rushton. "But Jeff and I have let our promoter Duco Events and their co-promoter, Top Rank, do their job."
Late last year Duco Events reached a co-promotional deal with Las Vegas powerhouse and Pacquiao promoter Top Rank. Both promoters quickly came to an agreement to match the WBO welterweight champion with the #2 contender at the 52,500 seat Suncorp Stadium in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane on April 23rd.