AMIR Khan says his number-one choice for his next fight is Manny Pacquiao after beating Samuel Vargas with a unanimous points decision in Birmingham.

While the 12-rounder on Saturday was arguably tougher than the Bolton welterweight anticipated, with him knocked down by the Colombian at the end of round two, Khan was a comfortable winner on the night.

And while there will be detractors who believe his two years out of the sport have seen him lose his right to compete at world-title level, the 31 year-old believes he still has what it takes at the top level and hopes the Pacquiao fight can be made.

He said: “I want the biggest fights and that’s where I belong.

“I will sit down with Eddie [Hearn, promoter] and see where we go but I want to fight again at the end of the year.

“This fight was something I needed – it was a great warm up for the bigger fights.

“There is a massive demand for the Kell Brook fight but the only fight that works for me over that is Manny Pacquiao – he’s my number one target.”

On Saturday, at a packed Arena Birmingham, Khan began explosively with good combinations from his notorious quick hands to both Vargas’ head and body which has the Canadian-based opponent on the back foot.

In the second another good left-right combination sent Vargas crashing to the canvas but he got up to battle on and then catch Khan with a right-hander at the end of the round to level the knock downs.

In the third, Khan again caught Vargas enough to send him down but he recovered to battle on bravely.

And the story of the fight went on in much the same fashion as Khan repeatedly put in good combinations but Vargas withstood them in response.

There were times when Vargas looked to be in the ascendancy, twice getting Khan penned in his own corner with body shots as he looked to land another big shot.

But despite going the distance, it was no surprise the judges’ decision was unanimous at 119-108, 119-109, 118-110 in Khan’s favour.

He added: “It was tougher than expected.

“What I really wanted to do was go the distance as it’s been about three years since I last went 12 rounds.

“There were times in the fight where I could have put him away but I stepped off him.

“If I want to move up and fight better opposition like the Manny Pacquiaos or Kell Brooks then I have to get those rounds in and that experience in the ring.

“The more rounds I do, the better I will get.

“I am very happy with the performance.”

Long-time rival Brook was watching ringside and says nothing he saw concerned him as he reiterated his willingness to drop down to 147lbs to fight Khan.

And while the Boltonian wants to fight Pacquiao first, Eddie Hearn, who promotes both Khan and Brook, believes that fight has to happen next.

He said: “Amir has made to clear he wants Pacquiao or Kell Brook

“Brook has to happen next or it will never happen.

“I know Amir wants Pacquiao but it’s now or never for the Kell Brook fight.”