Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The on-off narrative of the Manny Pacquiao vs Conor McGregor saga has taken a positive step forward with the two superstars lining-up interim fights as a stepping stone to what promises to be a mega match-up in 2021.

Pacquiao’s name has been linked to every up-and-coming boxer in the region of the welterweight division but the Filipino great has shown considerable interest in facing MMA star McGregor in the boxing ring.

Likewise, the feisty Irishman, who famously crossed over from the Octagon to fight Floyd Mayweather in 2017, has been licking his lips every time Pacquiao’s name crops up.

For the time being, he is taking an interim fight against UFC top five contender Dustin Poirier in January next year, but has been trying to make the fight happen before the end of the year.

That would clear the way for scheduling the mega fight against eight-division boxing champion Pacquiao and also set up a massive payday for both exponents.

Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring

Money is clearly the motivating factor in this orchestrated fight between an ageing champion close to his retirement and an unpredictable MMA artist who has retired three times but never really gone away from the combat sports limelight.

Similarly, Pacquiao, who is reportedly only two fights away from retirement and a life as a full-time politician in the Philippines, is likely to engage in an interim bout building up to the McGregor clash.

And that event could be against the new superstar of boxing, Teofimo Lopez.

An American of Honduran heritage, Lopez is unbeaten in 16 fights with his most recent victory coming against Russian Vasyl Lomachenko via unanimous decision last month which saw him crowned the undisputed lightweight champion in the process.

Now, within weeks of completing the at 135lbs, Lopez is toying with the idea moving up to super lightweight where a world of opportunities await and a possible bout with Pacquiao.

The Filipino Senator’s ideal fighting weight as being seven pounds below welterweight and he will find it worthwhile to drop down should the fight against Lopez happen.

A fight with Lopez would excite fans of Pacquiao now that possible match-ups against Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr failing to materialise.