Manny Pacquiao has long been one of the world’s top fighters, and he’s competed as a welterweight — or higher — for at least eight years. But the WBO welterweight champion told reporters in the Philippines that he has never heard of his prospective opponent, Jeff Horn.
Pacquiao, who earlier had expressed interest in fighting UFC star Conor McGregor, also said he had no plans to fight four times in 2017, as promoter Bob Arum suggested was possible.
Quoted by Rappler.com, Pacquiao said it is not physically possible for him at this stage to fight that often.
I’m not a robot. I’m human. To fight twice a year is hard for me. How much if I fight 4 times a year? It’s going to be impossible.
When asked about Horn, Pacquiao said, “This is my first time hearing his name.” Arum said earlier this month he was closing in on a deal for Pacquiao to fight the Horn in either Australia, Abu Dhabi or Dubai. He added that he planned a sort of a world tour for Pacquiao, with fights also in England and Russia before returning to the U.S. to fight at the end of the year.
But when he heard Pacquiao’s words Monday, he had no issue.
“I don’t have to get into the ring,” Arum told Yahoo Sports. “If he says four times is too much, it’s too much. He’s the guy fighting and he knows what it does. It’s the same as a race horse. You want to race him, but you have to guess if he is ready. The horse can’t tell you, but the fighter can. So if he says he’s fighting twice, that’s what we’ll do. He’s the boss.
“What I was saying is that I could make these opportunities available to him.”
One opportunity that may — or most likely, may not — come available to him is a fight with McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion who has publicly been clamoring for a fight with long-time Pacquiao rival Floyd Mayweather.
Sunday, a Pacquiao spokesman quoted the Filipino senator as saying, “If McGregor will fight me in boxing, why not? But not in MMA. MMA is much different than boxing.”
Arum said Top Rank president Todd duBoef would call UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein, a long-time friend, to discuss. Arum said he heard from Pacquiao’s team about that on Sunday.
“Todd has agreed to call Lawrence, and they have a great relationship, and tell him what Manny’s interest is and see what happens,” Arum said. “That’s it.”
UFC president Dana White, who made Mayweather a $25 million plus upside offer to fight McGregor, said a McGregor-Pacquiao fight would not occur if Arum was involved.
“Listen, I love Manny Pacquiao,” White said. “But I don’t love Bob Arum. You can tell Arum to save his money and not make any calls over here because we aren’t doing business with him.”