Amir Khan was given a scare by Samuel Vargas before a unanimous points win in Birmingham on Saturday as his world title bid credentials were questioned.
His 29-year-old opponent was down again in the third and Khan looked close to stopping his bloodied rival in round five before slowing considerably down the stretch, and the rugged Vargas was able to dig in.
Finally, Khan won the fight on points, over twelve rounds, 119-108, 119-109 and 118-110 on the judges cards, in what was an eliminator for the World Boxing Association welterweight title held by Manny Pacquiao.
Khan said: "There are massive fights out there like Pacquiao".
After a raucous reception greeted Khan on his way to the ring, the speedster quickly got into his groove, an eye-catching flurry kicking off proceedings in a lively opener. Khan staggered backward but was saved by the bell once again. Vargas made Khan pay for the lapse in concentration, and an overhand right to the jaw sent him down.
He sprung back to his feet and, fortunately, had time to recover on his stool. Khan weighed in right on the 147lb welterweight limit for his fight with Vargas. Although Khan showed heart, there was little on show to concern Brook. Manny Pacquiao is who I want. Me and Eddie [Hearn] are going to sit down.
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"I want the biggest fights and that's where I belong".
"The only fight that works for me over Kell Brook is Manny Pacquiao". Pacquiao is first choice, and if not Pacquaio then he'll face Brook.
Khan lifted himself to get the win, but he was forced to go the distance and faded badly late in the fight, having begun with flurries of punches that harked back to his best form.
Khan needed to climb off the canvas to beat Vargas, who a couple of times managed to crash through his defence and land heavy shots.
He told Sky Sports: "I'll come down because I'm the governor of the division in this country. I've always wanted that fight", said the 31-year-old.
"How does he do against Pacquiao, do I have to even answer that?"