Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao announced that he will return to the ring in May or June in a bout taking place in Malaysia.This is a serious change of direction from what long-time promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions initially planned.
Pacquiao was initially slated to face Mike Alvarado on April 14th. The bout would have been the chief support to the main event featuring pound for pound king Terence Crawford versus Jeff Horn for Horn’s WBO world welterweight title—a title he won by defeating Pacquiao last June via controversial decision.
But Pacquiao turned down the slot, considering it a slight to be on the undercard of a fighter who he believes he beat and has nowhere near the same drawing power.
In an interview aired on Tuesday, the 39-year-old told ABS-CBN television that his next opponent would be either world champion Lucas Matthysse or Danny Garcia. BoxingAfrica.com believes Matthysse is the more likely opponent if the Malaysia bout does indeed occur.
“Definitely, Malaysia is where we will fight,” said the eight-division titlist, who also serves as a senator in the Philippines.
“If not May, this coming June, maybe third week of June, so the preparation will not conflict with my work.”
When asked why he’d selected Malaysia for his return, he said, “Because those in Malaysia appealed to also have a fight there.”
Pacquiao is showing signs of his age in the ring, having been defeated in four of his last nine encounters. He’s ignored calls for retirement, as he continues to juggle double duties. How long he can continue to do so remains to be seen.