Manny Pacquiao eyes boxing return with Saudi exhibition fight
MANILA – Manny Pacquiao, who retired from boxing last year for a tilt at the Philippines presidency, said on Tuesday that he is considering an exhibition fight in Saudi Arabia in January.
The 43-year-old legendary former world champion is to hold talks over a fight against French former sparring partner Jaber Zayani in Riyadh.
“We will just start discussions,” Pacquiao, who previously ruled out a return to professional boxing, said by telephone from his home city of General Santos, where he is preparing for a charity bout against a South Korean YouTuber.
Pacquiao ended his 26-year boxing career with a points defeat to Cuban Yordenis Ugas in August 2021 and, as well as being a former senator, made a failed bid earlier this year to be president of his country.
“I will prepare in the same way I train for a real fight,” Pacquiao said of his charity match against martial arts YouTuber DK Yoo on Dec. 10 in Seoul.
The fight over six rounds has no agreed weight limit, potentially putting Pacquiao at a physical disadvantage against the bigger Yoo.
Yoo has more than 650,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he promotes his self-styled form of martial arts called “warfare combat system.”
“I know I will not win against him, but I will try my best to surprise Manny Pacquiao,” Yoo said previously.
Most of the money raised from the event will go towards rebuilding homes in conflict-ravaged Ukraine, organizers said.
Pacquiao is set to join other retired boxing greats who have ventured onto the exhibition circuit.
Floyd Mayweather, who has called himself the “pioneer of exhibitions,” dominated YouTuber Logan Paul in a fight last year and knocked out Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in two minutes in December 2018.
Both fights were widely ridiculed.
Mayweather, Pacquiao’s rival from their boxing days, will fight Japanese mixed martial arts star Mikuru Asakura in Japan later this month.