Reports in Japan suggest that Manny Pacquiao already has an opponent lined up for his Rizin debut. The Filipino is set to face a professional wrestler according to reports in Japan.

Tokyo Sports claims that Kota Ibushi has been approached with an offer to be Pacquiao’s first opponent in the Rizin ring. It is a name that won’t be familiar to boxing fans but anyone who follows the world of pro wrestling will know all about Ibushi.

He is best known for his tenure with New Japan-Pro Wrestling. But is a big enough name to be in demand outside of Japan.

Ibushi will be in action at Josh Barnett’s Blood Sport 9 on March 30th.

Contract expired

For any boxing fans unfamiliar with Ibushi there is a description on the NJPW website,

Kota Ibushi is one of NJPW’s most popular wrestlers with superhuman physical ability and an unparalleled sense for pro-wrestling.

Interestingly his contract with NJPW appears to have ended this week. NJPW confirmed the news on their website and it seems to have send shockwaves through the pro wrestling community.

It seems talks over a fight between Ibushi and Pacquiao are at a very preliminary stage. According to Tokyo Sport the ruleset is yet to be determined.


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Exhibition boxing

It seems unlikely that Pacquiao would be willing to compete in anything other than an exhibition boxing match. The odds would clearly be stacked in the Filipino’s favour as Ibushi has no previous experience whatsoever.

Floyd Mayweather has been very successful on the exhibition boxing circuit and Pacquiao seems to be following in the footsteps of his former opponent. He took on Korean YouTuber DK Yoo in Seoul last year and cruised through that fight.

A fight for Rizin would clearly be on a much bigger scale and the promotion is clearly looking for a suitable opponent. Mayweather has fought twice for the Japanese promotion, stopping both Tenshin Nasukawa and Mikuru Asakura.

It seems that Rizin is looking beyond its current roster for an opponent for Pacquiao. A match with Ibushi wouldn’t impress the boxing purists but the wrestler is clearly a big draw in Japan.