The 44-year-old will compete in a boxing match for the promotion in 2023
Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to hang up his gloves just yet after confirming on New Year’s Eve that he has signed a deal to compete under the banner of Japanese MMA organization Rizin in 2023.
However, it is understood that Pacquaio, 44, won’t be making a move to mixed martial arts. Instead, he’ll fight in a boxing match for the group against an as-yet-unnamed Japanese opponent.
The former eight-weight world champion most recently competed in an exhibition match earlier in December against South Korean martial arts star DK Yoo, which he won by unanimous decision.
Speaking at Rizin’s New Year’s Eve event in Japan on Saturday, Pacquiao revealed that a deal had been agreed for his return to the ring and that he was “excited to fight a Japanese fighter.”
𝐀 𝐒𝐏𝐄𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐋 𝐀𝐍𝐍𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐂𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓…
The Pac-Man, @MannyPacquiao himself will fight in the RIZIN ring in 2023 against a Japanese fighter 🇯🇵!ADVERTISEMENT
— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) December 31, 2022
“A few months ago, I was here as a guest and today I have a very exciting announcement tonight,” the Filipino star said.
“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 open and excited to fight a Japanese fighter.”
Pacquiao was joined inside the ring by Rizin chief Nobuyuki Sakakibara, with a capacity crowd packed into the world-famous Saitama Super Arena, roaring their appreciation at Pacquiao’s vow to take on a fighter of Japanese nationality.
The legendary boxer will join one of his most famous former opponents, Floyd Mayweather, in having competed in the Rizin ring.
Mayweather previously faced Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition bout on New Year’s Eve 2018 and again in September of this year against MMA fighter Mikuru Asakura, winning both easily in the first and second round, respectively.
Pacquaio retired from professional boxing following defeat to Yordenis Ugas in August 2021 but has since fought in a series of four exhibition fights, winning all four.
Speaking previously, Pacquiao admitted that he would relish the chance to trade blows once more with Mayweather – and that he would do so in a professional bout, rather than an exhibition, if it could be arranged.
“I’m willing to have a real fight with him, not an exhibition,” he told Fight Hype.
“We need to answer those questions in the minds of the fans. I was affected the first year because people were asking me, ‘When is the rematch?’”
With both men now having ties to the Rizin ring, perhaps a rematch of the highest grossing fight of all time can’t be entirely ruled out.
January 01, 2023 at 12:05AM