So much for a lengthy layoff to recover from his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in December. According to various reports, Manny Pacquiao is planning to return to the ring in April for a tune-up fight before facing Marquez for a fifth time in September.
Boxing Scene first reported on Friday that Pacquiao’s team was strongly considering an April fight in Asia. They and others say Pacquiao’s team is looking to book a fight outside the US for two reasons.
Pacquiao was initially under a 120-day suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission following his knockout loss to Marquez on Dec. 8, and a 90-day no contact suspension from the commission (the suspensions may have been reduced to 90/60 by a doctor). In order to begin training in time to fight in April, Pacquiao would have to find a country where the suspensions would not be enforced.
The Philippine Star also reports that Pacquiao’s manager, Michael Koncz, says they are targeting an Asian venue for “tax reasons.” The taxes in other countries might not be as high as they would be for Pacquiao to fight in the US.
“We’re not interested in the US for this fight,” Koncz told the Star.
Pacquiao’s last 14 fights have either taken place in Las Vegas or Texas. His last fight outside the US was a July 2006 bout against Oscar Larios in the Philippines.
Koncz reportedly mentioned three potential locations for the April fight to the Star — Singapore, Abu Dhabi or Macau, which is the gambling center in China.
Brandon Rios, Vyacheslav Senchenko, and Jessie Vargas have been mentioned as potential opponents. Koncz says they will focus on finding a venue before looking at opponents.
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, reportedly told the Manila Bulletin last week that he was interested in having Pacquiao and Marquez on the same April card, just not fighting against each other. The thinking is the card would build up to a September fight between Pacquiao and Marquez over Mexican Indepence Day weekend.
Having Pacquiao fight in April is a gross departure from what his team initially planned. Arum was so concerned about Pacquiao’s health following the knockout loss he had his fighter undergo extensive brain testing. There was talk that Pacquiao’s planned April fight date would be postponed and that he wouldn’t return until September. That’s what Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, initially said would be the best plan.
Roach still prefers for Pacquiao to wait until September before fighting.
“They’re talking about a tuneup fight in Macau right now, with him and Marquez on the show together against different opponents and then a rematch in September … that’s being negotiated right now. The thing is, I don’t really want the tune-up fight,” Roach told FightHub TV. “I would rather just go straight into to the fifth fight. I don’t think a guy of Pacquiao’s level needs a tune-up fight.”
Roach, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, dismissed the report from doctors in the Philippines who expressed concern about Pacquiao exhibiting early signs of the condition.
It really feels like Pacquiao’s team is rushing the fighter back into the ring before they should be. Going around the Nevada suspension is unethical, and it could have adverse effects on Pacquiao’s long-term health. If Arum cared about Pacquiao’s well-being, he’d tell his fighter to retire. Instead, he’s working on circumventing a suspension to get his money-maker back in the ring earlier than advised.
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