Legendary eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao made a surprise appearance at RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event, announcing that he will be fighting with the Japanese MMA promotion in 2023.
There weren’t enough specifics on the initial announcement in front of the packed crowd at the Saitama Super Arena, but Pacquiao revealed a few more details to the local media soon after.
“Yes, boxing (rules). One time, but it’s not the last,” Pacquiao said, confident he can have a continuous relationship with RIZIN after this one-fight deal that’s in place. “There’s great action and great fights in RIZIN. The atmosphere of the crowd is amazing.”
He then confirmed his RIZIN debut is targeted for around summertime in Japan, and that he has plans to keep active in the exhibition scene in 2023.
“I might have one more (fight before that also),” Pacquiao said in Filipino and translated by Bloody Elbow.
As for an opponent, Pacquiao says it definitely won’t be Floyd Mayweather, even with his former rival already having two exhibition bouts with RIZIN in the past. Pacquiao revealed that early discussions will likely have him facing one of the MMA fighters in RIZIN’s stable instead.
“My plan today is one at a time. So let’s finish first this commitment with RIZIN, and then we can talk about (a potential Floyd Mayweather rematch after),” Pacquiao said.
“(I’ll fight) anybody, as long as he has experience in boxing or knows how to throw punches,” he explained. “Right now I don’t have an idea, but that’s why I challenged RIZIN to get an opponent that can compete in the fight.
“It’s good to have an exhibition fight last December 11. I was so happy, but my opponent was a martial artist that doesn’t know about boxing at all, so that’s why he experienced a hard time in the ring,” he said. “But this next exhibition match here in Japan, this is different because I think probably my opponent is a professional MMA fighter who knows how to punch and of course (defend).
The 44-year-old boxing great officially retired after losing to Yordenis Ugas in 2021. He has now jumped into that exhibition boxing scene, soon after his failed — and expensive — nationwide campaign to become the President of the Phillipines.
Pacquiao’s first exhibition bout since retiring was against DK Yoo, who as he alluded to, is a more of a Korean celebrity martial artist rather than an actual professional fighter.