Manny Pacquiao could return against Crawford, Broner, Thurman

Former eight-division world champion and Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao may be settled in his new job as a Senator of the Philippines, but a penciled-in fight date later this year suggests he could be back in the ring from a brief retirement.

Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) hasn’t been in the ring since his one-sided domination of American Timothy Bradley last April. It was purportedly his final bout as a professional boxer before taking on his new life as a politician full-time.

Yet Top Rank chief Bob Arum has kept close contact with Pacquiao’s camp and has booked a tentative October 15 date at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with some big names popping up — junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, Mayweather clone Adrien Broner and the hard-hitting welterweight champion Keith Thurman.

Of the three, Crawford remains the frontrunner for a Pacquiao bout should the Filipino choose to come out of his short-lived retirement. The undefeated junior welterweight champ Crawford has a big fight scheduled later this month against Viktor Postol, but he is expected to get past that and when he does, he should be ready to face Pacquiao a few months down the line.

It was reported that Crawford was in consideration for a Pacquiao fight before, but was simply not ready at the time. Although little has changed since then, he still remains the top candidate to land the bout.

Arum has also been in talks with Al Haymon, who promotes Broner and Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather of course, remains a huge fight for Pacquiao despite both of them have been retired for months now. But Arum has been informed that Mayweather is off the table.

“Definitely not Mayweather. We’ve been told he’s not ready to fight yet,” said Arum. “Otherwise, of course, we’d consider that.”

As for Pacquiao, it remains to be seen if he would even be allowed to compete professionally again now that he’s won a seat at the Philippine senate. Pacquiao had long been a congressman representing Sarangani province while balancing his boxing career, but being a Senator is a full-time commitment, one that has more responsibilities than that of a congressman.

Still, Arum has penciled-in the October date just to be sure.

“We have the date. Just to protect ourselves,” said Arum, unsure of Pacquiao’s boxing and political future. “He [Pacquiao] doesn’t know. He has to see what committees he has, what kinds of hearings he has.”

Pacquiao’s sparring partner Lydell Rhodes seems one to think that if Pacquiao did come back and dominated his opponent, especially Broner, that Mayweather would come out of retirement to face the Filipino in a rematch.

“Yeah, I could see Floyd [Mayweather] coming out of retirement for that,” Rhodes said in an interview with BoxingScene. “If Manny goes out there and dominated Broner — who is calling out Floyd — and stops him, then Manny looks rejuvenated. Then you would have another close to a billion dollar fight.”

For now however, it seems Pacquiao’s boxing future is still showing some signs of life, despite his retirement. Arum plans to visit Pacquiao in the Philippines in the coming weeks to discuss. –By Carlos Miguel Cinco

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