Boxing

Manny Pacquiao says he could fight twice next year … but against whom?

“Everything was 95 percent done. We had the venue. The money was almost there. It wasn’t quite there. That was the only thing we were waiting on.”

Manny Pacquiao’s focus is on his work as a senator in the Philippines, including the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic. He hasn’t forgotten about boxing, though.

The welterweight titleholder – who turns 42 on Thursday – told the Filipino newspaper Daily Tribune that he could fight twice next year.

‘We still have sessions in March so there’s no way I am going to fight during that time,’ Pacquiao said. “I think I can do two [fights] next year.”

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) last fought in July of last year, when he defeated Keith Thurman by a split decision to win the WBA 147-pound belt.

Who’s next on his list? The future Hall of Famer has some high-level suitors for obvious reasons – exposure, money.

Manny Pacquiao Feels He Can Fight Twice In 2021 | FIGHT SPORTS

Fellow titleholder Terence Crawford, who is coming off a fourth-round knockout of Kell Brook in Nov. 14, has said repeatedly that he wants to face Pacquiao. The same for another beltholder, Errol Spence Jr., who outpointed Danny Garcia on Dec. 5.

Crawford said he and Pacquiao were near a deal to fight in the Middle East this year but the plans gave way to COVID-19.

“I already said who I want [next],” Crawford said. “I want Pacquiao. I want to revisit that fight. That was a fight that should’ve happened right now. But being that the pandemic happened, and they weren’t going to allow fans in the Middle East, they had to put a hold to that.

“Everything was 95 percent done. We had the venue. The money was almost there. It wasn’t quite there. That was the only thing we were waiting on.”

Photos: Manny Pacquiao/Adrien Broner media day - The Ring

Another possibility is MMA star Conor McGregor, who would generate big pay-per-view numbers even though he isn’t in Pacquiao’s class as a boxer. In other words, it would be easy money for Pacquiao.

Audie Attar, Pacquiao’s manager, said that fight is attractive.

“He wants to fight Manny. Manny’s come out and said he wants to fight Conor,” Attar told Bloomberg. “As I’ve stated publicly before, we’ve had conversations. That is a fight that we’re definitely going to make because both fighters want it, and there seems to be interest from the fans all around the world.”

McGregor has fought once as a boxer, losing by knockout to Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

Welterweight contender Mikey Garcia, who like Pacquiao is a small 147-pounder, also was a prime candidate to face the Filipino icon before the pandemic took hold.

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