Manny Pacquiao is set to return to the ring at 44 despite heading to the exhibition circuit following a 2021 retirement.
Needs must right now for UK welterweight Conor Benn, whose team made an offer to Pacquiao following interest from MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons.
Pacquiao’s right-hand man responded to a sounding out by Benn and his handler Eddie Hearn. It seems all parties are now on board for a Saudi Arabia collision.
In the grand scheme of things, the event does make sense. However, it will make no impact whatsoever on the current 147-pound climate.
Benn cannot fight in the UK due to a UKAD suspension of two failed drug tests. At the same time, Pacquiao is simply going where the money is.
Before Benn, he was scratching around, facing Combat YouTubers, and getting linked to fighting influencers and old MMA stars.
Manny Pacquiao vs Conor Benn
After a few weeks of testing the waters with fans, Gibbons and Hearn believe it’s worth staging the Pay Per View in the Middle East.
If Benn wins, they will say he was meant to. Pacquiao is in his mid-forties and lost to Yordenis Ugas last time. If Pacquiao wins, they’ll say Benn wasn’t ready for the step up.
For the fans, it’s lose-lose, whichever way you look at it – especially if an investigation into Benn’s failed drug tests yields a lengthy ban.
The British Boxing Board of Control hasn’t revealed its findings. That’s despite the World Boxing Council stating they couldn’t prove Benn knowingly ingested the performance enhancing drugs found in his system on two separate occasions last year.
Speaking to journalist Piers Morgan on his show that airs tonight in the UK, Benn pleaded his innocence and stated his mental health had suffered due to the last few months of coverage.
Benn on Piers Morgan
“I didn’t think I would make it through this period. I felt like I was on death row for something I hadn’t done,” Benn told Morgan. “But I was taking it day by day. I didn’t think I’d see another day. Yeah [I was suicidal].”
Benn added on potentially being banned from fighting at home in Britain: “My dad tore up his British boxing license on TV.
“I don’t have to be licensed by the board. I don’t plan on fighting in Britain any time soon.”
That leads perfectly into the Pacquiao fight, most likely in Abu Dhabi if a recent poster shared by Gibbons is anything to go by.
Will the UK fans feel as excited as Benn about facing an old legend? – Only time will tell.