Manny Pacquiao will fight for Rizin in 2023. The boxing legend was in attendance at the Saitama Super Arena this afternoon and was introduced to the Tokyo crowd.
He will fight against a Japanese opponent with the date of his Rizin debut yet to be confirmed. The ruleset was also not revealed although it will almost certainly be an exhibition boxing match:
𝐀 𝐒𝐏𝐄𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐋 𝐀𝐍𝐍𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐂𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓…
The Pac-Man, @MannyPacquiao himself will fight in the RIZIN ring in 2023 against a Japanese fighter 🇯🇵!
— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) December 31, 2022
This is not the first time Pacquiao has attended an event in Japan. He was at Super Rizin earlier this year to see old adversary Floyd Mayweather take on Mikuru Asakura.
Mayweather stopped Asakura in the second round. While the appearance of the two former opponents together as the press conference inevitably sparked rumours of a rematch Pacquiao made it clear his first opponent for Rizin would be Japanese,
A few months ago I was here as a guest and today I have a very exciting announcement. I have agreed with Rizin to fight next year, the date will soon be announced and also my opponent that Rizin will choose. I’m excited to fight a Japanese fighter.
Pacquiao finally got into the exhibition boxing business earlier this year. He faced DK Yoo in Seoul and cruised to a decision win over the Korean YouTuber although the event did not appear to be particularly successful in terms of ticket of ticket sales or pay per views.
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While a rematch with Mayweather doesn’t appear to be on the cards Asakura could be a potential opponent for Pacquiao. He is one of Rizin’s biggest stars but had not boxed before his fight with the American.
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 and looks set to be a much bigger event than Pacquiao’s bout with DK Yoo.
No date has been officially confirmed although the two former sparring partners are penciled to face off in February. Zayani is an experienced boxer who has won a handful of regional titles so looks to offer Pacquiao more of a challenge than DK Yoo did.
After that Pacquiao looks set to head to Japan to face an as yet unnamed opponent. The multiple time world champion appears to have well and truly embraced the exhibition boxing business!