Manny Pacquiao wasted no time moving on from another dismissal from Floyd Mayweather by signing his exhibition fight.
The eight-weight world champion continues to be linked to a rematch bout with Mayweather seven years after their Las Vegas battle.
However, Mayweather moved on to a potential clash in Dubai later this year, possibly in November. This scenario leaves the “Pac-man” free as a bird.
The Philippines legend, a ruler in eight weight classes, will now face a former sparring partner in Jaber Zayani early next year.
Pacquiao and Zayani got acquainted a couple of years ago before the 43-year-old retired from professional boxing.
Yordenis Ugas replaced a failed Errol Spence headliner in the United States before Pacquiao suffered defeat via unanimous decision.
Since then, Pacquiao has agreed to trade with combat YouTube fighter DK Yoo and now Zayani. This leaves a second encounter with Mayweather off the table until at least May 2023.
Zayani, 18-0 and holds the WBC Asia belt, made his professional debut in 2012. But less than two fights per year in a decade tell their own story.
Facing the man who became the oldest welterweight title holder ever in July 2019, Zayanis is delighted to be able to raise his profile.
“I personally negotiated with the Senator together with my team. After months of talks, we finally agreed to a face-off next year,” said Zayani.
“He already signed the contract, so it is a go,” added Zayani after using Filipino business manager Nico Rojas as an advisor.
Pacquiao vs Zayani
Luis “Chavit” Singson, who has a chequered past with Pacquiao, helped to oversee a non-sanctioned eight-round event.
Pacquiao and Zayani will use eight-ounce gloves for a clash that is tentatively set for mid-February at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Continuing to discuss the Pacquiao collision, Zayani added: “Call it an exhibition or something, but when the Senator signed the deal, I told him to prepare well because I’m going to give him a real fight.
“He then told me, “you better be prepared,” as both promised fireworks.
“I was honest with the Senator [Pacquiao is no longer in the Philippine senate after losing the Presidential election and being removed from the party] that I’m looking at this as my biggest break.
“I will surely maximize it. But I aim to create a buzz and become a household name.
“Sure, the organizers are calling this an exhibition. But for me, it’s a chance to exhibit my talent as a future world champion.
“That’s going to be a December party [fight against DK Yoo] for the Senator. But once he meets me inside the right, he will get French toasted.
Those words are a far cry from when Zayani was happy to learn from Pacquiao in sparring.
At the time, he stated: “When idols become rivals. He’s too smooth. This man teaches me so much.
“So now I think I can beat anyone if I got this from him.”
The question now is, does he believe he can beat Manny Pacquiao?