MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in November, that much is certain. Who the opponent will be is still very much undecided.
The welterweight champion and newly elected congressman was planning his victory party in the Philippines after his rival conceded the race on Wednesday, while promoter Bob Arum and his advisers were ready to begin the tough task of negotiating a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It has the potential to be the most lucrative fight in boxing history.
“The people are requesting that I fight Mayweather before I retire,” Pacquiao told The Associated Press. “If I ever fight again, I think I will give in to the request of the people.”
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s chief adviser, said no opponent has been selected, but that Nov. 6 and Nov. 13 have been set aside for the fight at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys are on the road Nov. 7 and Nov. 14.
“There is no named opponent yet, but that is certainly when we will fight,” Koncz said.
Discussions have not yet started with Mayweather or any other rival of Pacquiao, who won Monday’s vote in his southern Sarangani province. Among the other names that have been discussed are Antonio Margarito and the winner of a June 5 bout between Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto.
“If there are negotiations happening, it’s news to me,” Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions said this week. Schaefer is expected to negotiate on behalf of Mayweather.
Pacquiao said the decision to return to the ring was up to his mother, Dionisia.
“It’s OK now,” he said, “but just one fight.”
Anything less than a clash between Pacquiao and Mayweather is sure to disappoint fans. The two nearly came to terms earlier this year, even agreeing to split the payday 50-50, but the fight fell through when Pacquiao refused drug-testing conditions set by the Mayweather camp.
“If Mayweather wants to fight Manny, then no problem, provided he doesn’t try to bully us into terms and conditions,” Koncz said.
Mayweather has insisted that all of his opponents, beginning with his recent victory over Shane Mosley, will be required to undergo Olympic-style blood testing. Koncz said Pacquiao will fight under the rules of the commission of the state where the fight is held, which usually requires only urine tests in the weeks leading up to the bout.
Pacquiao believes that giving blood too close to a fight makes him weak.
According to Koncz, the “television date and the venue are the two most important things” in setting up a fight, even before an opponent is identified, as was the case when Pacquiao fought Joshua Clottey at the Cowboys Stadium in March. Pacquiao won by an unanimous decision.
The 31-year-old Pacquiao spent most of Wednesday resting after a night of monitoring results from the congressional race that pitted him against businessman Roy Chiongbian, a 61-year-old scion of a politically powerful and wealthy family.
“Pacquiao is leading by a big margin and it looks like a landslide,” said Michael Abas, regional director for the Commission on Elections.
In a statement broadcast on radio stations in Sarangani on Wednesday, Chiongbian conceded to Pacquiao and congratulated the champion. Pacquiao plans to hold a victory celebration Saturday at a convention hall in a mall in southern General Santos City.
“I am very happy because of the trust that the people have bestowed on me,” Pacquiao said. “I will serve the people faithfully.”
“Pacman” was soundly defeated when he first ventured into politics in a run for the House of Representatives in 2007, but his worldwide profile has grown exponentially since then.
Campaigning last month, Pacquiao described his platform as “very simple, very basic.”
He said the first bills he will file in Congress will be to provide government-financed livelihood projects for farmers and fishermen and benefits for athletes, not just boxers, who have given honor to the country.
“He wants change,” his trainer, Freddie Roach, told AP this week. “It’s genuine. People see that he wants to help his country, and that’s why they’re voting. That’s why they support him.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in New York contributed to this report.