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Exclusive: WBC President gives Manny Pacquiao WBC title hope

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WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has reacted favorably towards Manny Pacquiao potentially contesting the welterweight title in a comeback fight.

Through MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons informing WBN, Pacquiao is looking for a final world championship opportunity before hanging up his gloves for good. World Boxing News broke the news regarding Pacquiao’s quest on June 1st. However, the intention of the Filipino superstar came with a reminder that Pacquiao had been out for three years and lost his last fight.

Therefore, gaining a WBC title shot – potentially against Mario Barrios if the interim champion gets elevated on the back of Terence Crawford becoming ‘Champion in Recess’ – seemed out of the question.

WBN put this to Sulaiman, who said there have been instances in the past when a legendary boxer returned from retirement to challenge immediately for a title. The first one to come to Sulaiman’s mind was Ray Leonard. Like Pacquiao, ‘Sugar Ray’ was out of action for three years before returning to take on Marvin Hagler for the WBC middleweight crown. The only difference in the Pacquiao case was that Leonard had won his final fight before starting his hiatus.

When asked whether Pacquiao could face Barrios for the green and gold strap, Sulaiman didn’t rule out the possibility.

“If the WBC receives a petition for Manny Pacquiao to fight for the welterweight title, it would naturally go through a vote of the board,” Sulaiman told World Boxing News exclusively. “There are important precedents in this regard, like Sugar Ray Leonard fighting Marvin Hagler after passing successfully all his medicals.”

Therefore, if Pacquiao is cleared to box by physicians and Gibbons puts a request in on the eight-weight world titleholder’s behalf, the notion of a clash with Barrios would go through due process.

Pacquiao last fought in 2021 when losing his WBA version to Yordenis Ugas. The defeat wasn’t how the 45-year-old wanted to go out, as the plan was to face Errol Spence Jr. in a unification. Spence was ruled out due to an eye injury, and Pacquiao had no choice but to fight the Cuban substitute, who took full advantage.

Since then, Pacquiao has consistently called for one more pro fight as reports of an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather continue to fill column inches. WBN believes there’s still a chance that a rematch may happen in Japan on a RIZIN show this coming New Year’s Eve. However, before that, Pacquiao could challenge Barrios in a fitting farewell.

In 2019, Pacquiao became the old welterweight champion of all time when dethroning Keith Thurman in Las Vegas. WBN was present at ringside as Pacquiao dropped Thurman in the first round en route to a decision triumph.

If the Barrios fight comes to fruition, Pacquiao could also beat that benchmark by a full five years. If the event took place beyond September, Pacquiao would also be able to become the second-oldest boxing champion ever, overtaking George Foreman for second place behind Bernard Hopkins, who was 49 when he took the top spot.

It’s now up to Manny Pacquiao to put in the request. Pacquiao has previously held WBC titles at flyweight and super featherweight.

Read all articles and exclusive interviews by Phil Jay. Learn more about the author, experienced boxing writer, and World Boxing News Editor since 2010. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.