Boxing: I’m ready to box MMA star Conor McGregor, says Manny Pacquiao

Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao training at a gym in Manila, on Sept 29, 2016.
Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao training at a gym in Manila, on Sept 29, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA • World Boxing Organisation (WBO) welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao is willing to square up with Irish mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor if his potential superfight with Floyd Mayweather fails to materialise, a spokesman said yesterday.

But the Filipino boxing superstar-turned-senator stressed that any fight with McGregor would have to be a boxing bout, not an MMA contest.

"If McGregor will fight me in boxing, why not? But not in MMA. MMA is much different than boxing," a spokesman quoted Pacquiao as saying .

"The fight can be at the 140-pound (63.5kg) weight division. My normal weight when I'm not on training is just 141 or 142 pounds," he said.

Both Pacquiao and McGregor have been trying to lure the retired American Mayweather back into the boxing ring.

For Pacquiao, it would be a chance to avenge his defeat by Mayweather at their long-awaited showdown in 2015.

Meanwhile McGregor, the first man to simultaneously hold Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) titles in two weight divisions, has floated the idea of taking on the undefeated Mayweather.

In late November, McGregor was issued a California boxing licence in a development that fuelled speculation about a future showdown with Mayweather.

Mayweather told ESPN's First Take programme that a McGregor bout was the only thing that could tempt him to return to the ring.

UFC boss Dana White also added further fuel to the fire this month when he offered to pay each fighter US$25 million (S$35 million), along with a cut of pay-per-view proceeds, to fight - an offer that Mayweather later batted down.

Pacquiao has previously parlayed his sporting fame into politics, getting elected to the Philippine Senate last year while continuing to box professionally.

The Filipino southpaw had briefly retired after beating Tim Bradley in April but soon made a comeback, saying he still felt like a youngster.

In November, Pacquiao reclaimed the WBO's welterweight title for the third time with a unanimous-decision win over Jesse Vargas.

He has been engaged in ongoing talks with his promoter about a possible fight with Jeff Horn later this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Pacquiao: I'm ready to box MMA star McGregor'. Print Edition | Subscribe