By Jake Donovan
Less than a month after teasing the possibility of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao has made the first significant move toward clearing any hurdles.
Heavy rumors have swirled about the former eight-division titlist joining forces with Mayweather’s longtime adviser, Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions outfit. Manila Bulletin’s Nick Giongco was the first to break the story on Wednesday, which has since gained considerable momentum despite a single source willing to go on record to verify.
It been suggested that Pacquiao’s first fight under the PBC umbrella can come as early as next January.
Several PBC representatives have declined comment to BoxingInsider.com on the subject, although also didn’t dismiss such rumors.
The development would be the latest in a series of significant boxing power moves within the past few months. As far as stateside boxing content goes, there are three major entities currently controlling the landscape: Haymon’s PBC series, which recently renewed lucrative, long-term pacts with Showtime and Fox/FS1; Eddie Hearn through subscription-based DAZN USA streaming service; and Pacquiao’s former long-time promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank outfit is the primary content provider for ESPN and its ESPN+ streaming app.
Pacquiao’s contract with Top Rank expired earlier this year. His last fight officially promoted by Top Rank came last July, when he suffered a shocking and highly controversial split decision defeat to Jeff Horn in Australia. The bout ended his third reign as a welterweight titlist, also snapping a two-fight win streak following his loss to Mayweather.
The final piece of business between the two came in his July knockout win over Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Top Rank didn’t directly promote the event, but offered live coverage on ESPN+ after Pacquiao’s MP Promotions missed numerous deadlines to distribute through Pay-Per-View.
There remained little doubt as to their going separate ways when Pacquiao (or more likely a team member speaking on his behalf) took to social media to demand money owed by Top Rank for U.S. TV rights to the aforementioned event. The issue was quickly resolved, followed by confirmation that Pacquiao would take his career in a different direction.
Later that very week, the legendary southpaw from Philippines joined in with Mayweather in trolling the boxing community in suggesting a rematch to their May ’15 blockbuster event was in the works.
The declaration came on the morning of the September 15 rematch between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, leading many to believe it was simply yet another stunt by Mayweather designed to steal attention from a Golden Boy Promotions event. Mayweather came out of retirement last summer to face UFC superstar and boxing debutant Conor McGregor, staging the event three weeks prior to Alvarez-Golovkin I and drawing more than three times as many PPV buys.
Once Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39KOs) joined in on the fun—posting “No Excuses #50-1”—skepticism quickly switched to curiosity as to whether it was actually going to happen.
Their first fight destroyed all box office numbers within the sport, setting benchmarks that will likely never be surpassed in this lifetime. Even if the rematch doesn’t happen, Pacquiao agreeing to do business with Haymon and PBC opens up a number of future possibilities. Most of the best welterweights in the world—including Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia—all fight under the PBC umbrella.
It also opens the door for Pacquiao to secure U.S. TV dates for his MP Promotions stable, which sources in the Philippines claim as an additional motivating factor.
Though far from substantiated, a potential first fight for Pacquiao could come versus former four-division titlist Adrien Broner. Where such a fight would land depends on the willingness of PBC’s chief two outlets – Showtime and Fox – ponying up the necessary funds to avoid having to go PPV in back-to-back months, with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury locked in for December 1 on Showtime PPV live from Los Angeles, California.
A far less expensive route could see him instead take a fight with a PBC second-tier welterweight such as Andre Berto, Devon Alexander, Josesito Lopez or John Molina Jr.
Whatever is Pacquiao’s next move, it will come with an entirely new team in place.
The future Hall of Famer—who turns 40 in December—parted ways with trainer Freddie Roach earlier this year, thus ending a 17-year run with the Hollywood-based cornerman. Under Roach’s tutelage, Pacquiao managed to win titles in seven weight classes together (winningthe lineal flyweight champion prior to hooking up with Roach) and enjoyed a mercurial rise to superstardom.
His fight with Matthysse came with longtime assistant Buboy Fernandez as his head trainer, who will presumably serve in that role for as long as Pacquiao continues with his career. Along with Roach and Arum no longer along for the ride, BoxingScene.com has reported that Pacquiao has also cut ties with longtime manager Michael Koncz.