Dubai: Manny Pacquiao has been warned: Fight MMA superstar Conor McGregor and he will be stripped of the WBA welterweight championship belt which he won back in July 2019 when he defeated Keith Thurman.
But does Pacquiao, who is the only boxer in history to win 12 major world titles in eight different weight divisions, really care?
I’m not so sure.
Should the crossover fight with McGregor materialise, Pacquiao will stand to earn in excess of $100 million, which at this stage in his career, and with retirement just round the corner, is a big deal.
Ever since he became a Senator of the Philippines in 2016 there has been talk that he would one day attempt to become the President. And perhaps that day is coming sooner than expected.
After the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach claimed that the 41-year-old would fight twice more next year before retiring to focus on his political career from 2022.
However, Phil Jay of World Boxing News says that “Pacquiao will almost certainly be relieved of the WBA welterweight title if he doesn’t defend it in the next few months”.
“The World Boxing Association would have given Pacquiao a grace period due to the coronavirus stopping so many fights. But they will want movement in the next six months or so,” WBN reported.
“At present, Yordinis Ugas is the ‘regular’ champion. The Cuban will want his shot at the full version to be recognised entirely as the real belt holder. As a result, Pacquiao will have to face Ugas in 2021. If he doesn’t, the WBA will be forced to act and promote Ugas to full title-holder.
“Pacquiao won’t be able to defend his strap against McGregor as the UFC star is 0-1 in a boxing ring. He’s also unranked. McGregor would have to fight somebody else first. Possibly pick up a fringe WBA title in order to be rated. The WBA would then have to agree to a request for Pacquiao to put it on the line in an exhibition charity bout,” WBN’s Jay contends.
With the end in sight boxing’s only eight-weight world champion is more likely to consider the McGregor ‘money fight’ as opposed to worrying about a belt, considering he already has more than any boxer can dream of.
Let’s not forget Pacquiao’s name means money.
Who can forget the $600 million that he helped generate when he fought American Floyd Mayweather in 2015, a fight which is the richest in boxing history and looks set to stay that way.