Although Manny Pacquiao has expressed interest in a possible boxing match with UFC superstar Conor McGregor, a comment from McGregor on Friday that his next fight would come against the legendary eight-division world champion was met with amusement from Team Pacquiao.
“This is Conor cracking into the Proper Twelve whiskey a little early today,” Sean Gibbons, Pacquiao’s longtime confidant and the president of his MP Promotions, told BoxingScene soon after McGregor’s social media posts. “It’s Conor being Conor.”
Earlier on Friday, McGregor tweeted, “I’m boxing Manny Pacquiao next in the Middle East. It will be a true honour to have faced two of the greatest boxers of the modern era.”
McGregor (0-1), 32, of Ireland, was referring to Floyd Mayweather, who came out of two years in retirement to fight McGregor in a junior middleweight boxing match in August 2017 in a the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Mayweather dominated the fight and knocked McGregor out in the 10th round of a spectacle that garnered 4.3 million domestic pay-per-view buys and generated more than $600 million in total revenue, according to Showtime, which put on the event.
That made Mayweather-McGregor the second-biggest event in combat sports history behind only Mayweather’s decision win over Pacquiao in their long-anticipated welterweight title unification fight in 2015, which sold 4.6 million pay-per-views and generated around $650 million.
Gibbons said McGregor is getting ahead of himself with his tweet.
“It’s something that’s been talked about over the last year and it’s something I think could happen one day. The senator is going to fight again in 2021. He’s absolutely looking to fight and Conor McGregor is on the list of guys the senator could fight,” Gibbons said about Pacquiao, who serves as a senator in his native Philippines. “If the fight ever did happen it would be a huge global event between two global superstars. But it’s a long way from (there being any kind of deal). This is just Conor playing around right now, wishful thinking.”
Paradigm Sports chief Audie Attar, who manages McGregor and signed Pacquiao last year, told ESPN on Friday there were serious talks between the camps for the fight and that UFC, which has McGregor under contract, was on board with the idea. UFC had to sign off on allowing the Mayweather-McGregor fight to go forward and was one of the co-promoters of the event.
Gibbons reiterated what he has said for months, which is that there is a chance that Pacquiao’s next fight, whomever it is against, could be in the Middle East, where he believes they could land a large site fee to make up for the prospect of having no crowd or only a limited one due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“A fight with Conor is something people have been trying to put together but there are still a lot of things that would have to be done,” Gibbons said. “And there are also other opponents out there that are interesting to the senator. There’s Mikey Garcia, which is a great fight, and other guys. But there’s nothing done for Conor to make any kind of announcement. This is just talk. That’s exactly what it is – a lot of talk, but there is also a lot of interest and everybody is open to the idea.”
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), who turns 42 in December, has not fought since a stirring performance in a unanimous decision win over Keith Thurman, whom he knocked down in the first round, to claim a welterweight world title in July 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, hoped to fight this past summer but the coronavirus pandemic prevented that from happening.
McGregor has been idle since stopping Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds in a January UFC fight. Earlier this month, McGregor was arrested in Corsica, France for alleged sexual assault and indecent exposure.