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Former UFC double champion Conor McGregor wants to fight boxer Manny Pacquiao, but the bout remains a very long shot to be made despite McGregor’s assertion Friday on social media that he’s fighting the Filipino senator next in the Middle East.
Pacquiao’s contractual situation, as it often has been throughout his career, is complex at best.
One boxing promoter told Yahoo Sports on the condition of anonymity that “five different people came to me saying they represented Manny Pacquiao and were looking to make a fight.”
Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who for years was Pacquiao’s promoter, had been trying for a long time to make a fight between Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight champion whom he promotes, and Pacquiao.
Arum said he did a Zoom discussion with Pacquiao and that Pacquiao asserted he was able to sign a contract with Top Rank for the fight and was free of any contractual obligations. Arum said he mentioned the Premier Boxing Champions to Pacquiao and said he asked Pacquiao to bring PBC founder Al Haymon into the process.
Pacquiao, who is still listed on the PBC website, again insisted he was clear and then signed a document expressing that for Top Rank. The Crawford-Pacquiao fight would have been in Qatar, so Pacquiao could avoid paying U.S. taxes. But the health minister of the country where the fight was to be held scotched the idea at the last minute because of concerns about the coronavirus.
“I have a signed document from him saying he is free of all obligations,” Arum said.
But multiple sources said that Pacquiao has a promotional agreement with TGB Promotions. That would preclude Pacquiao from doing a fight without TGB, which is headed by the Southern California-based Tom Brown, being the lead promoter.
Pacquiao at one point had signed a managerial contract with Audie Attar of Paradigm Sports, but a source in Pacquiao’s camp said that Pacquiao had his attorneys write to Attar and voided that deal.
Attar, though, disputed both points. He said, “I still have an active and valid contract with Manny. He never wrote me nor called me directly to terminate me and we are in active discussions.”
Attar also asserted that Pacquiao is no longer contractually obligated to TGB.
“As his manager, I reviewed that old contract which he is now free and clear from,” Attar told Yahoo Sports.
If Pacquiao is clear, as Attar suggests, the biggest hurdle to the deal would be getting the UFC’s blessing for McGregor to take part in a boxing match.
Yahoo Sports reached out to UFC president Dana White, but he was unavailable. Attar told Yahoo Sports, “We met with the UFC, and they are on board. We’ve done it once before, and we will do it again.”
McGregor boxed Floyd Mayweather in 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which Mayweather won by 10th-round TKO to improve his record to 50-0. That fight did 4.4 million pay-per-view sales, which is second all-time, as well as a $55.4 million gate.
A Pacquiao-McGregor fight wouldn’t figure to be as lucrative as the Mayweather-McGregor bout was, but it would still be a massive event. Because the pay-per-view universe is larger now than it was in 2017, it can’t be ruled out that it would be a bigger fight.
Getting anywhere close to 4 million pay-per-view buys would mean paydays in the range of $100 million for both guys. Mayweather made well over $200 million when he fought McGregor, who earned $85 million.
It seems logical to believe it would be a boxing match if it were made, but Attar said “it’s not a done deal yet,” and that details were still being worked out.
In 2006, Pacquiao signed promotional deals with both Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions. A lawsuit was filed and the sides agreed to mediation, where a retired federal judge gave Top Rank Pacquiao’s rights but ordered it to pay Golden Boy a percentage of the proceeds.
Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya had met Pacquiao at Los Angeles International Airport in August 2016 off of a flight from the Philippines and gave him a suitcase filled with $250,000 cash as an inducement to sign with Golden Boy.
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