Are we any closer to a Manny Pacquiao vs. Conor McGregor showdown?
Manny Pacquiao finally has a management team again, and it teases of an eventual showdown with UFC star Conor McGregor, as the boxing icon has officially signed with Paradigm Sports, who also manages McGregor.
Pacquiao had been considered a free agent for the past few years now, though there had been previous controversies over if he had been tied down to Bob Arum and Top Rank or Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Pacquiao signing with Paradigm was first reported in February, but the Filipino icon said last week that nothing had been officially signed and he was forming his own promotional company, Pac Sports and Entertainment.
Now that he is officially under the umbrella of Paradigm and Audie Attar, however, this means we may be one step closer to a potential showdown between Pacquiao and McGregor. But what is the definition of “closer” — and is it actually close?
Manny Pacquiao signs with Paradigm, will we see him vs. Conor McGregor?
McGregor defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 in January, which was supposed to be the beginning of a comeback 2020 season. The former UFC champ-champ, however, announced retirement from MMA via social media for a third time in June.
As it turns out, once again, McGregor hadn’t actually fully committed to retirement and was having another spat with the UFC and its president, Dana White. This was more evident by a series of private conversations between the pair released by McGregor, in which they fight over the Irish star’s next potential opponent and fight date.
McGregor’s desires, as it seems, is that his next fight is either the fight with Pacquiao or a rematch with Dustin Poirier. In fact, earlier this summer, McGregor had teased the Pacquiao fight by posting “I accept” in Tagalog.
Why Manny Pacquiao vs. Conor McGregor isn’t a guarantee despite Paradigm
And despite all the money and viewers that Pacquiao vs. McGregor would have, it seems less believable to happen next over McGregor-Poirier II.
McGregor had previously announced in a now-deleted tweet that he would be fighting Pacquiao in a boxing match held in the Middle East sometime before the end of this year or early in 2021. McGregor was accused of lying about said fight, with both White and Ali Abdelaziz, manager of McGregor’s biggest MMA rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov, stating the Saudis went after McGregor for the post and threatened to sue.
And in fact, it’s not the first time a boxing match between the two was teased and lawsuit threats came in. In late 2017, rumors swirled that the pair and their teams were in negotiations, and White stated during a UFC post-fight press conference that if those rumors were true, he and the UFC would be suing Pacquiao and his team, as McGregor was still under contract to them.
And that’s where things get messy in this scenario again.
McGregor and Poirier initially agreed to a charity MMA bout to take place outside of the UFC umbrella on Dec. 12, the same day as UFC 256, with McGregor additionally making a pledge to give money to Poirier’s founded charity, The Good Fight Foundation.
Both had agreed to the charity bout, but inevitably their UFC contracts made the fight difficult to do outside their jurisdiction. But it seems both are still willing to do the fight under the UFC banner and are waiting to hear back from the UFC on details and a fight date (McGregor wants it to be before 2020 is over, which could be problematic).
Earlier this year, it was reported that McGregor had preferred a boxing match over an MMA fight, and it kind of made sense. With little to no fans allowed at boxing and MMA events all over the world right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed McGregor would not be seen in the UFC again until the MMA promotion was allowed to draw live gates once more.
And while McGregor can still sell UFC pay-per-views under these conditions, the reachability would be bigger in a boxing match, especially one with Pacquiao, the current WBA welterweight champion. It’d appeal to more than one fanbase, and with Floyd Mayweather vs. McGregor being the second-best purchased boxing event in recent memory (right behind Mayweather vs. Pacquiao coincidentally). there would be a lot of money to be made with such a match.
But the UFC always wants its cut of the pie, and that’s easier to do with two fighters you have under contract rather than having to negotiate with another fighter and promoter.
And on a lesser end, you have Pacquiao, who hasn’t fought since winning the WBA title from Keith Thurman in July 2019, potentially being stripped of his title for inactivity and failure to defend if he pursues this fight.
We are definitely one step closer to a Pacquiao vs. McGregor fight happening, but there are still a lot of logistics to work around, and a lot of uncertainty about certain parties.