When it comes to the in-ring return of Filipino icon and eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao, the truth regarding the details ultimately comes down to who you believe. Pacquiao, 39, recently shot down promoter Top Rank’s hopes of matching him against faded welterweight Mike Alvarado on the possible pay-per-view undercard of the Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford bout for the 147-pound title “PacMan” lost to Horn last July by disputed decision. On Thursday, Pacquiao’s information director in the Philippines, Aquiles Zonio, sent a press release to announce Pacquiao’s MP Promotions had agreed to co-promote a June 24 card in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (June 23 in the United States), against secondary welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse.
Despite Pacquiao’s claim that the fight would be officially announced at a March 22 news conference in Kuala Lumpur, with press tours to follow in major Asian cities like Beijing, Tokyo, Macau and Hong Kong, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum says not so fast.
Pacquiao’s decision to avoid the co-billing opposite Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), the former undisputed junior welterweight champion who is among the sport’s pound-for-pound elite, likely speaks to his disinterest in such a dangerous, passing-of-the-torch fight at this point in his career.