Khan claims Pacquiao fight agreed for November 8 in Riyadh

By Sports Desk July 16, 2019

Amir Khan says Manny Pacquiao has agreed to face him in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 8, provided the Filipino great comes through his fight with Keith Thurman unscathed.

The 40-year-old Pacquiao (61-7-2) is set to face Thurman for the WBA Super welterweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Ahead of that contest, Khan, who improved his record to 34-5 by easing past late stand-in Billy Dib in Jeddah last week, said a deal is in place with Pacquiao's team.

"Hopefully we can get that fight," the Briton told iFL TV. "Both parties have signed the fight off, but hopefully he comes out of there in one piece on the weekend against Keith Thurman, which is a hard fight for him.

"If Manny comes out of this fight safe and sound without any injuries, I think that'll be the next one."

Asked what will happen if Pacquiao loses to Thurman, Khan added: "I still think it's a big fight out there. Because Saudi wants to see Manny Pacquiao, Saudi wants to see me again.

"Let's see what happens. At the moment, I think the Saudis want the Pacquiao fight more than any other name."

Prior to his facile victory over Dib, Khan was previously in action in April, when he lost in controversial fashion to Terence Crawford, a low blow bringing the WBO welterweight title bout to a premature end.

Khan has long courted a fight with multi-weight world champion Pacquiao, who will face Thurman this weekend having revived his career with victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner following a shock loss to Jeff Horn in 2017.

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    Job done for Anthony Joshua, who once again holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles.

    The British fighter achieved his aim in the rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr, just about staying far enough away from the kind of trouble that saw him lose the belts in the first place to make amends for the only blot on his professional record.

    He could not quite produce the kind of sensational stoppage his opponent managed on a still-scarcely believable New York night back in June, instead choosing to use his physical advantages to dictate from a distance, boxing off the back foot behind a solid jab. Prior to the bout, Joshua had sought out Wladimir Klitschko for advice - this was just the kind of performance Dr Steelhammer would have prescribed during their conversations.

    "I took my 'L' and I bounced back," the victor said in the immediate aftermath. While it was far from flashy, the result was really all that mattered for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist.

    Hyperbole is so often present in sport, yet it was not too much of an overstatement to state this was a must-win situation for Joshua. Another setback, whether by stoppage or on the scorecards, would have been a disaster. Shock losses are a risk in his line of work – just look at the careers of heavyweight legends Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson – but two defeats on the spin would be tough to overcome.

    With that in mind, it made sense for the determined challenger to make absolutely sure history was not repeated. There was simply too much on the line to take any risks. Work commitments forced Jose Mourinho to turn down the offer of a ticket, yet he must have been impressed by Joshua's safety first strategy in the face of such obvious danger.

    There were moments during the bout when Joshua had to fight his natural instinct to attack, where he appeared seemingly ready to step into range and follow up a heavy shot with a further barrage, only to realise that was not part of the plan worked on with trainer Rob McCracken. It was as if he had to continually remind himself of the best way to be successful boxing: hit and don't get hit.

    My hope is that someone sees my page and decides not to give up. Clean hearts win  pic.twitter.com/yBrHeLq19q

    — Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) December 8, 2019

    It helped his cause that he was up against an opponent who had clearly made the most of his unexpected success.

    Having registered over 20 stones on the scales at Friday's weigh-in, Ruiz was unsurprisingly sluggish with his footwork, as if wearing boots full of Saudi Arabian sand, and slow to pull the trigger. At least in defeat his pockets are full, though.

    Piling on an extra 15 pounds following the first fight seemed an odd tactic even before the action was under way inside the purpose-built arena. It had taken around six weeks to put the venue together – Ruiz had the opportunity to destroy Joshua's career in the space of six months, in the process proving what unfolded at Madison Square Garden was no fluke.

    Instead, once the now-trademark sombrero came off, he was completely overshadowed by Joshua. In more ways than one, there had been too much on Ruiz's plate in the aftermath of that famous triumph in the Big Apple, leading to a lacklustre display that he may live to regret. Despite the beaten boxer stating his desire for the pair to make it a trilogy, a third instalment seems unlikely to be on the agenda for 2020.

    And, in turning the focus to next year, you realise that while much went on in the heavyweight division in 2019, not a lot has changed. Deontay Wilder remains the WBC champion, as we tantalisingly wait for that Tyson Fury rematch (fingers crossed for February), while Joshua now once again has the three other major belts in his possession.

    Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte – now cleared by UK Anti-Doping - waits for his opportunity to face somebody, anybody, for the chance to get his hands on a world title. Then there is the ultra-talented Oleksandr Usyk, the next in line with the WBO, who has fought just once since moving up in weight.

    Maybe the talented Filip Hrgovic – an easy winner against Eric Molina on the undercard in Diriyah – is set to be thrust into major fights, or the promising Daniel Dubois builds on 13 straight wins to make a breakthrough on the global stage.

    Despite the strength in numbers and all that has happened in the previous 12 months, the status quo remains the same. By finding the necessary – if unspectacular – way to avenge his first loss, a relieved Joshua knows he once again sits with fellow Brit Fury and the undefeated Wilder as the kingpins among the big men.

  • I can't want it more than him - trainer critical of Ruiz Jr's preparation I can't want it more than him - trainer critical of Ruiz Jr's preparation

    Andy Ruiz Jr's trainer, Manny Robles, has suggested the heavyweight only had himself to blame for being out of shape for his rematch with Anthony Joshua.

    Six months on from sensationally snatching Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts, Ruiz was on the wrong end of three lopsided scorecards in Saudi Arabia on Saturday as he suffered a comprehensive points defeat.

    There had been significant surprise at the weigh-in when Ruiz tipped the scales at 20st 3lb, more than a stone heavier than he had been for the first fight.

    In a post-fight news conference, a sheepish Ruiz admitted "the partying got the best of me" and apologised to Robles and his father for his poor preparation, adding: "I should have listened to them more. I shouldn't have put on all this weight."

    Robles told Seconds Out: "We had the time, we had the sparring, the proper sparring, I believe, but it's up to the fighter. It's definitely up to the fighter. 

    "I'd rather not discuss that because I don't want to make it seem like an excuse. The better man won, period. Unfortunately, as Andy said, he should have been more committed, he should have trained harder, but what are you going to do now?

    "You've got to get back to the drawing board and if he really means what he says about coming back to the gym and training hard then I believe he's definitely a title contender. He can definitely give everyone a run for their money."

    Defending his own work, Robles added: "I don't think I lost the connection with my fighter, I just think it's more him, it's more the individual. The individual has to be disciplined, you got to be hungry. I can't want it more than him. He's got to want it."

    Ruiz claimed increased media commitments had hindered his preparation, but Robles said: "You cannot let the situation control you. There's 24 hours in a day when you can go and do a press conference or show up some place but then you still have the rest of the day to get back to work, to get back to business."
     

  • Fans come to see knockouts! Wilder blasts 'hesitant' Joshua Fans come to see knockouts! Wilder blasts 'hesitant' Joshua

    Deontay Wilder has hit out at Anthony Joshua's "dance and grab and jab and hold" approach following the Briton's rematch victory over Andy Ruiz Jr, while suggesting a unification bout between the two heavyweight world champions is unlikely to ever happen.

    Having suffered a sensational first career loss when he faced the unheralded Ruiz in June, Joshua reclaimed his WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a degree of comfort in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, keeping his opponent at distance for long periods on his way to a landslide points victory.

    However, WBC champion Wilder lamented his rival's lack of aggression.

    "Joshua did what he had to do to get the win," Wilder told The Athletic. "He ran around the ring and was on his bike all day. Basically, he had [Wladimir] Klitschko in the camp and he was a lot like Klitschko: that jab-grab-hold method. That's all he did tonight.

    "He was so hesitant…Joshua's mentality was to survive. The Klitschko method. You want to dominate guys, man.

    "I'm not coming in, after losing to this guy, to just dance and grab and jab and hold. I'm going to show the world and convince them I am the very best and that no one is close to me, especially with what's going on in the division right now. It's a time of proving who is the best.

    "How can no one say I'm not the very best in the world now? I've given you what you pay for each and every time, especially when we're talking about a heavyweight bout. Fans come to see knockouts. They come to see something dramatic - a body lying on the canvas, spread like it's having birth. That's what people want to see, and that's my mentality."

    A mandatory defence against either Oleksandr Usyk or Kubrat Pulev appears likely to represent Joshua's next task, even though he said he "would love" to face Wilder.

    "I don't think we'll ever see a unification bout. We'll never see it, and I don't want people to get their hopes up on it because it'll never happen," said the American.

    "His promoter [Eddie Hearn] talks about what they've accomplished, how many people attend, how they sell out this and that, but the thing is, nobody gives a f*** about those statistics and numbers. People want to see your heavyweight in there with our heavyweight! That's it! We're tired of hearing that other s***.

    "I'm too dangerous. You've seen what I do in the ring. I don't play around. And they know if Ruiz can get Joshua out of there, imagine [what I could do] …that's why they stayed away from me."

    Wilder was also highly critical of Ruiz, who acknowledged he had not prepared seriously enough for the rematch with Joshua after "three months of partying" to celebrate his first win. 

    A disgusted Wilder said: "Ruiz said he was doing great [before the fight], not letting this moment get to him, but in the end you hear him saying he ate too much and should've trained harder … like, what the f***? What do you mean you ate too much and could've trained harder?

    "I take this s*** seriously. I don't know what their mentality is, but I didn't become champion of the world just to say, 'put me in the record books. At least I can say I was a champion. They can never take that away from me!' 

    "I'm here for legacy. Long live the king! That's my mentality, and America should love a world champion like me."

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