Former WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan 32-4 (20) might be facing Samuel Vargas 29-3-2 (14) next, but his real target is the winner of next month’s WBA “regular” welterweight title fight between titleholder Lucas Matthysse and challenger Manny Pacquiao – and there’s no prizes for guessing who he wants to win.
“We’ve tried to get the Manny Pacquiao fight for many years,” Khan told Boxing News. “We are going to force it. Manny Pacquiao or Lucas Matthysse, I’m forcing a position to be a world champion again. Because none of these world champions want to give me a chance so it’s like me forcing my way and becoming the mandatory, beating the guys on the way to those titles.”
The fight against Vargas, a Colombian fighting out of Canada, will take place at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, UK on September 8 with the victor lining up a shot at the winner of the Matthysse vs Pacquiao fight at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 15.
But Khan insists he’s not looking past Vargas.
“Every fight is a threat. I’m not lying,” he said. “When Breidis Precott came to the UK he was nowhere near a threat to me. He knocked me out in the first round. Anything in boxing can happen.
“He [Vargas] seems confident. He thinks he’s going to win, he thinks he’s going to beat me. Look, he’s lost two or three fights in his career, winning 29 of them. So you have to show a little bit of respect.
“He’s been in with the big opposition [Errol Spence and Danny Garcia], he didn’t beat them obviously but this could be his chance. I’ll be giving him a full training camp for this fight. We’re giving him a full 10 week training camp. So I’m sure he’s going to be more than ready.”
Last year Khan believed he had a fight against Pacquiao locked in for the UAE, with both fighters posting on social media at the end of February that the fight was a done deal.
“My team an I have agreed terms with Manny Pacquiao and his team for a super fight #pacquiaokhan #April23rd” the Bolton boxer had tweeted at the time, while Pacquiao advised his followers: “Negotiations between team Pacquiao and team Khan have come to terms for the April 23 bout as this is what the fans wanted.”
Unfortunately for both sides the Middle East millions promised to finance the fight turned out to be little more than a desert mirage. Pacquiao would travel to Australia in July to face unheralded schoolteacher Jeff Horn, losing his WBO welterweight title in the process, while Khan would spend the year on the shelf dealing with messy family and business issues.
A win over WBA number 10 Vargas would be exactly what Khan, the WBA number seven, needs to kick-start his stalled career.