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Philippine boxing legend and Senator Manny Pacquiao training at his gym in the city of General Santos in the southern island of Mindanao. Photo: AFP

Manny Pacquiao to hold talks over boxing return in Saudi Arabia exhibition against Jaber Zayani

  • The 43-year-old retired Filipino icon eyes fight with French former sparring partner in Riyadh
  • ‘We will just start discussions,’ Pacquiao says ahead of charity bout against South Korean YouTuber DK Yoo

Manny Pacquiao, who retired from boxing last year for a tilt at the Philippines presidency, said on Tuesday that he is considering an exhibition fight in Saudi Arabia in January.

The 43-year-old legendary former world champion is to hold talks over a fight against French former sparring partner Jaber Zayani in Riyadh.

“We will just start discussions,” Pacquiao, who previously ruled out a return to professional boxing, said by telephone from his home city of General Santos where he is preparing for a charity bout against a South Korean YouTuber.

Pacquiao ended his 26-year boxing career with a points defeat by Cuban Yordenis Ugas in August 2021 and, as well as being a former senator, made a failed bid earlier this year to be president of his country.

“I will prepare in the same way I train for a real fight,” Pacquiao said of his charity match against martial arts YouTuber DK Yoo on December 10 in Seoul.

Trainer Freddie Roach speaks to Manny Pacquiao between rounds against Yordenis Ugas. Photo: AP

The fight over six rounds has no agreed weight limit, potentially putting Pacquiao at a physical disadvantage against the bigger Yoo.

Yoo has more than 650,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he promotes his self-styled form of martial arts called “warfare combat system”.

“I know I will not win against him but I will try my best to surprise Manny Pacquiao,” Yoo said previously.

Most of the money raised from the event will go towards rebuilding homes in conflict-ravaged Ukraine, organisers said.

Manny Pacquiao waves inside a bus on his way to file his certificate of candidacy for president in Pasay City. Photo: Xinhua

Pacquiao is set to join other retired boxing greats who have ventured onto the exhibition circuit.

Floyd Mayweather, who has called himself the “pioneer of exhibitions”, dominated YouTuber Logan Paul in a fight last year and knocked out Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in two minutes in December 2018.

Both fights were widely ridiculed.

Mayweather, Pacquiao’s rival from their boxing days, will fight Japanese mixed martial arts star Mikuru Asakura in Japan later this month.