Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in 2023, he will take part in an
exhibition fight organized by Rizin, the Japanese mixed martial arts league.
The boxer himself announced this on Saturday in Japan.
The world champion in eight divisions attended Rizin FF 40 in Saitama and
announced that he signed a contract with Rizin to hold his next exhibition
match against one of the Japanese fighters in the new year.
“A few months ago I was here as a guest, and I have a very interesting
announcement tonight,” Pacquiao said during his speech in the ring. – I
agreed with Rizin about the fight next year. The date will be announced soon,
as well as my opponent, who will be chosen by the organization. And I am
open to new fights with Japanese fighters. Thank you. It could be any
opponent from Japan.”
Pacquiao retired from boxing in 2021 after losing to Yordenis Ugas and
focused on his political career. He returned to the ring in an exhibition in
December against South Korean mixed martial artist DK Yoo, who had little to
no boxing experience.
At a press conference after this announcement, Pacquiao promised that his
next opponent would be of a much higher level than Yu.
“I was happy to have an exhibition fight in December,” Pacquiao said. “But my
opponent was a martial artist who didn’t understand boxing at all. That is why
it was hard for him in the ring. But the next exhibition fight here in Japan will
be a completely different opponent. Probably, it will be a professional MMA
fighter who knows how to hit.
Rizin orchestrated an exhibition bout involving longtime Pacquiao foe Floyd
Mayweather Jr. and Tenshin Natsukawa in 2018 that resulted in Mayweather
stopping the kickboxing star in the first round.
Mayweather defeated Pacquiao in a super fight in 2015, after which Pacquiao
repeatedly called for a rematch. When asked if a Mayweather–Pacquiao
exhibition fight is possible in the future, the Filipino gave a diplomatic answer: