Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao was last seen in the ring back in July 2019 when he beat a previously undefeated Keith Thurman via split decision to win the WBA welterweight title. At 40, he became the oldest welterweight world champion ever.
Most recently UFC superstar Conor McGregor has been in talks to fight the future Hall of Famer.
McGregor tweeted on Sept. 25 that he will box Pacquiao in the Middle East. A day later, a Pacquiao representative sent out a statement confirming the matchup saying the earnings will go to the COVID-19 victims in his native Philippines.
The fight will most likely take place in 2021 when Pacquiao will be 42 years old.
But McGregor has been dropping hints of boxing Pacquiao — dating back to January during an interview with ESPN. He also tweeted “tinatanggap ko” in July, which translates to “I accept” in Pacquiao’s Filipino language.
It’s important to know both Pacquiao and McGregor are signed to Paradigm Sports Management, which can significantly help the negotiation process.
The terms of fight are not yet finalized, and McGregor’s recent announcement of a mixed-martial-arts charity event (independent of the UFC) against Dustin Poirier seems to contradict all of the Pacquiao talk.
The UFC gave its consent on Wednesday to this non-title bout, according to ESPN. McGregor has not decided which fight he would rather take.
Whether the Pacquiao versus McGregor spectacle takes place or not, this will still be a fight that makes both sides winners.
Here are three reasons why a bout with McGregor is the perfect way for Pacquiao to cap of his legendary career.
This one is obvious.
McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC, and his pay-per-view numbers reflect that. He has had six fights garner over 1 million PPV buys, including the richest fight in UFC history against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018. No one else in the sport rivals to his popularity.
The Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Decade in the 2000s could say the same in his sport.
Pacquiao, along with Floyd Mayweather, has dominated the sport’s PPV numbers in the past 15 years. There have been seven Pacquiao fights surpassing the 1 million buy rate. Only Mayweather’s nine tops that.
To put in context how impressive those numbers are: the other two biggest stars of the 21st Century, Canelo Álvarez and Oscar De La Hoya, had four such fights each.
A ring with Pacquiao and McGregor would feature two of the biggest names in combat sports.
McGregor already had his first taste in the ring back in 2017 when Mayweather scored a technical knockout in round 10.
That exhibition ended up being the second-highest grossing fight in boxing history with a reported 4.3 million PPV buys (only behind the 4.6 million from Mayweather versus Pacquiao in 2015, which also notched the richest live gate at $72 million according to State of Nevada Athletic Commission).
Pacquiao likely won’t go on a press tour and trash talk to promote the fight like Mayweather and McGregor did. Thus, the public interest may not be as fervent.
Let’s say the fight does about half of what 2017 bout did: 2 million PPV buys at $75 each.
That’s still $150 million in PPV revenue, which might be all the fan revenue generated with the likelihood of fighting without fans in attendance due to the pandemic.
Suppose sponsorships and other endorsements raise the purse up to another $50 million, totaling to $200 million. The two parties agree to a 60-40 split in favor of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao will take home roughly $120 million and McGregor a modest $80 million.
Pacquiao gets one final payday to give back to the Philippines and maybe for his future presidential campaign.
2-Low risk, high reward
The favorite for this fight should be Pacquiao — by a lot.
McGregor has toughness and heart, but he isn’t in the same class as Pacquiao as a boxer.
Pacquiao should make easy work of someone who is elite in a completely different discipline of fighting.
The risk will remain low because McGregor is highly unlikely to beat boxing’s only eight-division champion.
However, the reward will be high because both are megastars, and millions will tune in.
Even at his advanced age and past his prime, Pacquiao is still the biggest draw in the welterweight division.
Many view Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. as superior boxers at this point in their careers. Pacquiao could fight either of the two to unify his WBA welterweight title with Crawford’s WBO or Spence’s IBF and WBC belts.
But there is no reason Pacquiao should step into the ring with either undefeated champion.
The risk is too high and the reward is too low even if Pacquiao wins.
Crawford and Spence will not garner the amount of revenue worth it for Pacquiao.
As great as those two are, they are just not box office enough.
Crawford’s highest grossing PPV fight only drew 150,000 buys, and Spence topped out at about 350,000 buys against Shawn Porter.
Pacquiao would get the fraction of a payday fighting those guys compared to fighting McGregor.
3-There’s nothing left for Pacquiao to prove
Pacquiao’s legacy is fully cemented.
He is the only fighter in the history of the sport to win titles in eight different weight classes — something that will likely never be done again.
He arguably reached the highest quality of a prime from 2005-2011 on a 15-fight win streak where he was beating up and knocking guys out from super featherweight all the way up to junior middleweight.
He doesn’t need to prove he is the undisputed best welterweight in the world.
As Mayweather once said, “health is wealth.”
At this point, Pacquiao should fight one last time to maximize his payday while minimizing the risk of serious injury.
That’s exactly what a fight with McGregor will give him.