Boxing icon and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao wants to fight Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in the ring next year, an aide said in a statement Saturday.
“For the sake of all the Filipino COVID-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” Pacquiao’s special assistant Jayke Joson said, adding negotiations are ongoing.
The fight could be staged in the Middle East after the coronavirus pandemic abates, the aide said, adding Pacquiao would donate a portion of his prize earnings to Filipino COVID-19 victims.
Pacquiao’s promoter Sean Gibbons earlier told AFP in Los Angeles that the eight-division world champion was mulling a possible comeback fight with McGregor, though the two camps were a “long way” from agreement.
Earlier Friday, McGregor, 32, said on Twitter he was “boxing Manny Pacquiao next in the Middle East.”
“It will be a true honor to have faced two of the greatest boxers of the modern era,” McGregor added.
Pacquiao, 41, has not fought since claiming the WBA welterweight crown with a stunning victory over Keith Thurman in Las Vegas in July last year.
A bout against McGregor, who faced welterweight king Floyd Mayweather in a money-spinning 2017 fight, would guarantee Pacquiao another lucrative payday as he nears the end of an illustrious boxing career.
Despite his technical knockout loss to Mayweather in his boxing debut, McGregor had shown that he was capable of challenging “the best boxers in the world”, Gibbons said.
“Our lawyers are finalizing all the confidential details, but both fighters are getting ready for this one epic last boxing fight,” Joson said.
Pacquiao has successfully combined a political career in the Philippines, where he is an elected senator, while continuing to box at the highest level.
He had turned pro in his teens 25 years ago and owns a 62-7-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts.
“His main focus right now is to help here and there, providing relief, shelter, money and food, among other necessities,” Joson said.
The virus has infected 301,000 people in the Philippines and killed more than 5,000.