MANILA, March 6, (AFP): Philippine boxing idol Manny Pacquiao said his next opponent would be either world champion Lucas Matthysse or Danny Garcia in Malaysia in May or June, after rejecting an undercard offer to face Mike Alvarado.
Pacquiao told ABS-CBN television in an interview aired Tuesday that his camp had narrowed the choices down to World Boxing Association welterweight champion Matthysse, of Argentina, or the American former WBA super-welterweight and World Boxing Council welterweight champ Garcia, who was unbeaten until last year.
“Definitely, Malaysia is where we will fight. If not May, this coming June, maybe third week of June, so the preparation will not conflict with my work,” said Pacquiao, who is also a senator.
Last week Pacquiao, 39, rejected an offer to fight on the undercard of the Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford fight in the US in April.
Pacquiao, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, previously said he was eyeing an April date with Ukraine’s World Boxing Organization superfeatherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko during a break from his senatorial duties.
Asked why he would fight in Malaysia, Pacquiao said “because those in Malaysia appealed to also have a fight there”.
Pacquiao is a national hero in the Philippines but there have been growing questions about whether the ageing boxer can still command the mammoth paydays that his fights used to earn.
He lost his WBO welterweight title to the Australian Horn last year to leave his record standing at 59 wins, seven losses and two draws, and is now in the twilight of his career.
The Filipino southpaw retired briefly in 2016 but made a comeback to retake his WBO title from Jessie Vargas just months later. He has not scored a knockout win in the past eight years.
In January, Pacquiao rejected calls to retire for good, adding he did not believe his recent losses tarnished his record.
He parlayed his sporting fame to get elected to the influential Senate in 2016 and has had to juggle his training and matches with his legislative schedule.