Amir Khan has set his sights on eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao after breezing past Billy Dib to claim the WBC international welterweight title in Saudi Arabia.
The British fighter outgunned an inferior opponent in every department at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
Dib’s corner threw in the towel after Khan showed his hand speed to floor the Australian for the second time with a flurry of body shots.
Dib stepped in to face Khan at short notice and had to put on 17lbs to face the welterweight.
Speaking after the fight to broadcaster talkSPORT, Khan said: “We want the Manny Pacquiao fight, let’s hope he comes to Saudi Arabia.
“Hopefully we come back again at the end of the year and bring Manny Pacquiao here.
“I felt very comfortable in there. Obviously having a new trainer, Bones Adams.
“We had to work on a strategy, I slowed myself down a little bit instead of rushing all the time.
“I was seeing everything, making sure I was putting in the right shots, I felt very comfortable in there.”
The 32-year-old from Bolton was back in the ring for the first time since his controversial WBO welterweight title defeat to Terence Crawford in April.
He was originally scheduled to meet Neeraj Goyat.
But Indian Goyat was forced to pull out after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in June, leaving Dib, a former IBO super-featherweight and IBF featherweight champion, to move up the weights and step in.
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The 24-year-old created history for the UAE two years ago when he signed a four-fight contract with Bellator to become the first Emirati to join an international MMA promotion.
Yahya, who fights out of TK MMA Gym based in Dubai, made his debut late in 2017 and secured an emphatic first-round finish of Ash Griffiths.
However, after entering the bout with a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, the high of victory was followed by the low of surgery.
Out of action for 15 months, Yahya makes his long-awaited return to the Bellator cage on Saturday May 4 to face Gavin Hughes in the 155lbs division at Bellator Birmingham: Primus vs. Wilde live on the Bellator app.
And Yahya is ready to create some noise through his fists having been called out by Chalmers, star of the MTV hit show Geordie Shore, last summer.
Mohammad Yahya let’s go next 💪🏽🥊 https://t.co/w5zmAvPdP6— Aaron Chalmers (@AaronCGShore) June 9, 2018
“I haven’t seen the call-out on Twitter but I hope he did because that’s one guy I would really like to fight,” Yahya told Sport360.
“Hopefully after this one we can get that done. Maybe we could do it in Dubai? That would be a great fight for Bellator to bring a card to the UAE and have a big fight here.
“I see him as the perfect opponent for that.
“I believe I can beat him in every aspect, so I hope he is calling me out and after this fight, let’s get that done me versus Aaron Chalmers in Dubai.”
The call-out emerged after Chalmers secured a victory of his own over Yahya’s debut opponent Griffiths, via first-round Guillotine Choke.
And despite the Briton fighting at welterweight, a division above the Emirati’s lightweight limit, Yahya is determined to get the bout made providing he comes through against Liverpool’s Hughes.
“It’s a fight which makes sense, though. My team wants me to fight him,” he explained.
“I think he fights in the division above me so maybe I would have to come up to 170lbs or maybe it could be catchweight. It doesn’t matter, any weight I’ll fight him.”
First, though, Yahya, who will make his seventh professional outing, must navigate a very tricky encounter with Hughes on May 4.
The British fighter is competing for the first time since being knocked out by Martin van Staden last March and will be making his debut for Bellator.
It was Hughes’ first loss having gathered a record of nine wins but Yahya is in confident mood as he enters the bout free of injury.
“In my last fight, there’s not a massive amount you can tell about my style,” he said.
“I was 50 percent, I literally went into it with a torn ACL and I still made the fight look easy.
“Naturally with the injury I showed some weaknesses in my game but I need to get back in the mix after my big recovery, I need a couple of fights under my belt.
“Hopefully this fight goes well and I get the win, but I don’t know if anything has been discussed but obviously there are plans for Bellator to come to Dubai one day.
“That would be amazing for me because it would open up so many doors, but it would also be amazing for Bellator to get coverage in the Middle East.
“They love combat sports in Dubai and in the UAE so it’s a good place to do an event.”
Watch Mohammad Yahya in action against Gavin Hughes at Bellator Birmingham: Primus vs. Wilde live on the Bellator app on Saturday, May 4.
A new MMA promotion is launching in Dubai – and will feature some of Europe’s best amateur talent on a blockbuster opening card.
Reign MMA Championship is the brainchild of Core, a production company who brought the World’s Ultimate Strongman event to Dubai last year.
This latest venture will see its first event in early March and will showcase amateur talent from Ireland and Poland in a head-to-head team battle.
Ireland will be represented by the world-famous Straight Blast Gym (SBG), headed up by coach John Kavanagh.
The gym is home to The Notorious Conor McGregor, the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion, along with elite stars Artem Lobov and Gunnar Nelson.
While the professionals will not be fighting in Dubai, the Irish are sure to bring a strong team over to perform in front of what is likely to be a large, partisan crowd backing the men in green.
“This is a unique opportunity for SBG and our fighters. It’s going to be a really tough night, but we will take a strong team to Dubai, with one intention – winning,” said coach Kavanagh.
“Our team will have some of the best up and coming fighters around, and this event will be a fantastic experience for them.
“It’s great to see Dubai expanding its hosting of MMA, are we are excited to be part of this inaugural event with Reign MMA Championship”
Their opponents will be some of the best amateur fighters from Eastern Europe in the form of MMA Poland Association and their chief, Martin Lewandowski.
Lewandowski is a household name on the MMA circuit, having founded KSW, an MMA promotion based in Poland considered to be one of the strongest in Europe.
He’s now assembling a team of the country’s best amateurs to head to the Middle East.
“I am both excited and proud we have been invited as MMA Poland Association, and that we can make our debut at such a unique event,” said Lewandowski.
“We hope that this is just the beginning of a long-term association with Reign MMA Championship. It is very important to invest in amateur fights for the development of MMA as a whole.
“In Dubai, we will show the strength of Polish fighters. Our team is ready to take up the challenge. Dubai, here we come!”
Don Idrees Owner/CEO at Core Worldwide says they are looking to make a serious impact on the MMA scene.
“This is a hugely exciting venture, and what better way to kick things off than to host some of the best amateur talent Europe has to offer.
“We want to put on a show, the like of which the Middle East has never seen in terms of the quality of fights.
“Dubai is expanding rapidly when it comes to top class sporting events, and we hope to be at the heart of that.
The date and location of the inaugural Reign MMA Championship event will be released in the coming weeks.