It looks like Manny Pacquiao may be returning to the ring in 2023 and not just for a relatively safe, victory-lap, exhibition payday. Nope – Manny is looking to lace them up for real and Britain’s Connor Benn might be the man across the ring from him.
The WBC has cleared Benn, who was all over the news recently for two positive drug tests,, so one would assume he is good to go. The outcome saw Benn reinstated into the WBC’s welterweight rankings, but he is still under investigation by the British Boxing Board of Control and United Kingdom Anti-Doping. Benn currently cannot fight in the United Kingdom so look for him to head stateside or to the Middle East.
Benn has been vocal about some possible matchups and one of them is with the former 8-division, sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame fighter Manny Pacquiao.
A Pacquiao-Benn fight became the chatter among fight fans after some key players dropped hints about the potential matchup.
Eddie Hearn, Benn’s promoter, and Sean Gibbons, an advisor for Pacquiao, have both indicated that the fight may happen at some point.
Gibbons certainly saw the WBC verdict as a step in the right direction. On a recent Twitter post, Gibbons posted a mock poster of a Pacquiao vs. Benn fight with the heading, “Back to Business.” He then wrote, “Waiting on Eddie Hearn! Senator ready to Rumble.”
Pacquiao, 44, fought last December against South Korean mixed martial artist DK Yoo in an exhibition bout. This was his first time in the ring after retiring in 2021 following a decision loss to Yordenis Ugas.
While many fighters would love the opportunity to face Philippine legend Pacquiao, there are a lot of moving parts for the fight to happen – date, site, promoter, commission approvals, and ultimately money.
MaxBoxing caught up with Gibbons, just back from a fight date on the weekend in California, to get his thoughts on what fight fans can look forward to in regard to a Manny matchup.
“Manny still feels he can box at the highest level,” said Gibbons, long respected in the industry as one of boxing’s premier power players. “Some business things have to be sorted, but when that happens, we are looking at a date for early June,” he said.
“We are looking at Abu Dhabi, and the name that looks like it is a go is Conor Benn. His name came up and Manny was looking for a fight, so that is what we will work towards,” he continued. “Kell Brook’s name was in the mix but it looks like Conor Benn on June 3rd if all can be worked out,” said Gibbons.
And while many retired fighters are on the exhibition circuit, this fight is most definitely not an exhibition. So, are we looking at a ‘one and done’ or will we see more of Manny?
“At age 44, you take it one fight at a time,” said Gibbons. “Manny loves to fight, so if he looks good, we shall see,” he said. “But, one step at a time.”