Manny Pacquiao has given a big hint as to who his next opponent will be. The boxing legend was ringside at Rizin 40 and announced he would be fighting for the promotion this year.
He made his exhibition boxing debut last month and totally outclassed DK Yoo. The Korean YouTuber is a complete novice but Pacquiao hinted Rizin would find him an opponent with a background in combat sport rather than social media.
Last year Floyd Mayweather was matched with Mikuru Asakura on a Rizin card and it sounds like a similar sort of opponent is being lined up for Pacquiao,
“This next exhibition match here in Japan, this is different because I think probably my opponent is a professional UFC, MMA fighter, so he knows how to punch and of course to cover,” Pacquiao told reporters at the Saitama Super Arena last weekend.
Manny Pacquiao announced Saturday that he has a deal in place with Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation to compete next year.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) December 31, 2022
The exhibition boxing match with DK Yoo took place in front of a handful of fans in Seoul and didn’t appear to generate much global interest. But Pacquiao enjoyed being back in the ring again even though his opponent clearly wasn’t up to scratch,
“It was good to have an exhibition fight last December 11th and I was excited and so happy. My opponent is a martial art, who doesn’t know about boxing, so that’s why he experienced a hard time in the ring.”
This was not the first time Pacquiao has attended a Rizin event and it sounds like he was impressed.
“There’s great action, there’s great fights in Rizin, and the atmosphere of the crowd is amazing,” he told reporters.
Next up for Pacquiao is an exhibition boxing match against Jaber Zayani in Saudi Arabia. The bout is set for the 68,000 capacity King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh but does not have a confirmed date.
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Rizin is primarily an MMA promotion and some reporters were wondering whether Pacquiao might be about to switch codes and compete in a new sport. But he made it clear he had signed on to do a single exhibition boxing match,
“Boxing, one fight, but it’s not the last time,” he said.
The fight to make would of course be a rematch between Mayweather and Pacquiao. The two first fought fought in 2015 in an event which supposedly generated $600 million USD.
They were photographed together ahead of Mayweather’s last exhibition boxing match at Super Rizin. This led to speculation they might be set to rematch in Japan but first of all Pacquiao will be facing an MMA fighter by the sounds of it.