LOS ANGELES • Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring on April 9 in Las Vegas to take on Timothy Bradley for a third time, promoter Bob Arum said on Wednesday.
Top Rank promotions chief Arum confirmed that the bout was slated for the MGM Grand.
While Pacquiao has spoken last year of retiring after an April bout to pursue his political career, Arum said he would not market the bout as Pacquiao's last.
"I'm not certain it is his last fight," he said. "It may well be his last fight, it may not be his last fight. You cannot in good conscience sell it that way."
A congressman since 2010, Pacquiao announced in October that he would seek a seat in the Philippines senate in 2016.
The 37-year-old, who owns a record of 57-6-2 with 38 knockouts, has not fought since a May 2 unanimous decision loss to unbeaten Floyd Mayweather in their long-awaited bout that shattered revenue records for the sport, generating some 4.5 million pay-per-view purchases and US$600 million (S$848.2 million) in gross revenue.
The southpaw aggravated a shoulder injury in the Mayweather bout and had surgery five days later. This week in a question and answer with fans on his Facebook page Pacquiao said his shoulder was "100 per cent". Arum, too, said the shoulder "seems to be 100 per cent".
"He's playing basketball with it, scuba-diving with it," Arum said.
Although not all the paperwork has been finalised, Arum said there were no obstacles to the fight taking place, with major terms such as guaranteed money and the purse split decided.
"These fighters have fought for me for many years," he said, adding that the fight would be formally announced with Stateside press conferences in January.
Pacquiao and Bradley have met twice before, with the American taking a controversial split decision in a fight many thought Pacquiao had won in June of 2012.
Pacquiao avenged the polarising defeat and regained the World Boxing Organisation welterweight world title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Bradley in April of 2014.
Bradley, 33-1-1 with 13 knockouts, has regained the WBO welterweight belt and will be coming off a ninth-round technical knockout of Brandon Rios on Nov 7.
Other fighters reportedly on the shortlist as April opponents for Pacquiao included England's Amir Khan, a former unified super lightweight title holder, or Terence Crawford, the current WBO super lightweight world champion.
Arum said financial stakeholders in the bout, including satellite and cable television providers, voiced a preference for Bradley. And as for fans who feel Pacquiao has already proved himself against the American, Arum said Bradley has changed significantly - especially since linking up with trainer Teddy Atlas prior to his win over Rios.
"This is a different Bradley because his style is completely different," he said. "Teddy Atlas has turned him into a completely different fighter. The question is, can Manny beat this Bradley?"