Manny Pacquiao’s “retirement” didn’t last very long, and the boxer is already looking for his next opponent. Having last fought on April 9, the welterweight champion is eyeing a return to the ring in late 2016.
“We're looking at Oct. 29 or Nov. 5. The question is building availability because we want to do the fight in Las Vegas," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com.
When Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley for the welterweight title three months ago, he claimed that it would be his last fight. But it appears that Pacquiao won’t let his new position as a senator in the Philippines stop him from fighting again.
"Manny's primary concern and obligation is to fulfill his senatorial duties," Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz said. "But he just misses [boxing]. He misses the training. He misses being in the gym. You can see when he trains it's like a stress reliever for him. His mood changes. It's like he's in happy land. So I am working with Bob and Manny is working closely with the senate president to make sure the dates are OK. We're doing this properly.
"When Manny was a congressman we didn't have to clear dates. Now we have to. He is taking his job in the senate seriously. He is not going to be absent, which is why we can't do a fight Oct. 15 because of the senate dealing with the budget."
Pacquiao’s return will certainly spark speculation about a rematch with Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather also claims to be retired after defeating Andre Berto in September, but just as few believed Pacquiao was calling it quits for good, many expect Mayweather to fight again.
If Mayweather does decide to eventually have another boxing match, a fight against Pacquiao might make the most sense. The undefeated welterweight has said he would only return for a bout that would earn him a nine-figure payday, and he might not be able to make that kind of money against anyone other than Pacquiao. While Mayweather-Pacquiao was considered to be a disappointment from a viewing perspective, it earned Mayweather close to $230 million, and he’d almost assuredly get at least $100 million for a rematch.
Pacquiao would welcome another shot at Mayweather. He lost a unanimous decision in their mega-fight on May 2, 2015, though he fought with an injured shoulder that required surgery shortly thereafter.
A rematch with Mayweather, however, doesn’t seem likely to come to fruition in the coming months. Adrien Broner was Pacquiao’s preferred opponent, but a dispute over Broner’s purse has seemingly eliminated him as a possibility.
"I worked very, very hard with [Broner adviser] Al (Haymon) to make the Broner fight but Al was never able to bring Broner around to a realistic number," Arum said. "He wanted what we haven't paid anybody in a long time. Just a crazy number. In effect he wanted parity with Manny and Al agreed that he couldn't do anything with him. The kid is crazy."
That leaves a few other options for Pacquiao, namely Terence Crawford and Jessie Vargas. Both fighters are, like Pacquiao, promoted by Top Rank.
Crawford was considered as Pacquiao’s opponent in April before being passed over by Bradley, whom Pacquiao defeated with ease by unanimous decision. Pacquiao might drop down to 140 pounds to contend for Crawford’s light welterweight title, though the champ would first need to defeat Viktor Postol in their unification bout on July 23. Crawford is a heavy favorite to beat Postol.
Vargas is now available after his proposed welterweight title unification bout with Kell Brook fell through. Brook will instead move up to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin.
Shortly after Pacquiao defeated Bradley, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach indicated that a fight against Canelo Alvarez was possible. But that is no longer on the table for this year, considering Alvarez will face Liam Smith on Sept. 17.