Pacquiao says he is in talks to fight McGregor

Pacquiao (left) in July 2017 fighting Jeff Horn of Australia in Brisbane. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said on Friday (Dec 8) he has opened talks to fight mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in April when he takes a break from his legislative duties.

"If we can negotiate it, I have no problem. It is OK with both of us," Pacquiao said when asked about reports he was seeking a match with McGregor who lost a megabucks boxing match in August against the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather.

Asked if he had already approached McGregor's handlers for such a fight, Pacquiao told AFP, "initially, but we have not yet had any follow-up conversations."

But Pacquiao said he heard that McGregor was willing to fight him after the Irish mixed martial artist's foray into boxing.

Last month, Pacquiao appeared to be teasing a match with McGregor, posting a message to him on Twitter and Instagram, saying: "Happy Thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma," referring to McGregor's social media handle.

Pacquiao, who turns 39 later this month, lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight title to Australian former teacher Jeff Horn in July, having come out of retirement in 2016 to take the belt from American Jessie Vargas.

McGregor has not fought in mixed martial arts or boxing since losing to Mayweather by a 10th-round technical knockout in their much-hyped bout in Las Vegas in August.

Like McGregor, Pacquiao, who has won eight world championships in different weight divisions, also lost to Mayweather in a disappointing "fight of the century" in Las Vegas in 2015.

Pacquiao, who is treated like a national hero in his home country, parlayed his boxing fame into a political career, getting elected to the influential Philippine Senate in 2016.

He stressed that McGregor is just one of many possible opponents when he returns to the ring for the first time since his defeat to Horn.

"It depends who they can finalise as my opponent by April," Pacquiao said, stressing that the match had to be held during the lengthy Senate recess.

The boxer-turned-senator said he could also have a rematch with Horn or a fight with 29-year-old American Keith Thurman who holds the WBA Super welterweight title and the WBC welterweight title.

Pacquiao said his next fight could be held in Malaysia, Dubai or Macau.

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