Manny Pacquiao has not officially announced who he will fight at the end of this year, but he has finally offered a return date. Regardless of whether Juan Manuel Marquez ultimately agrees to a fifth bout or not, the former eight division champion will make his highly-anticipated boxing comeback in September.
You will recall, the last time fans saw Pacquiao he was just minutes off his first knockout loss since 1999 and desperately searching for the right way to describe how he felt. The 34-year-old made it clear that retirement wasn’t a serious option yet, and expressed a real desire in avenging his loss to Marquez.
Little has changed since then.
There were some reports that Pacquiao’s family was pleading with him to retire and about how Freddie Roach’s questions regarding his health might lead to him hanging up his gloves, however, both were eventually disproven. Then some rumors began to circulate that he may consider fighting again earlier in 2013, maybe April, but that too never amounted to much. Aside from Michael Koncz, it didn’t seem like anyone in Pacquiao’s camp really wanted him to rush back that early after suffering a knockout as brutal as the one he had absorbed.
Recently, while speaking to the Manila Standard, Pacquiao laid out a pretty reasonable roadmap for the year ahead.
“Bob Arum and myself have been talking and will continue talking. What is definite is they’ll see me fight again come September. Not April nor immediately after that as speculations are going. Tell the public that it won’t be long before I make them happy again when I fight,” he said,” he said, when asked when fans would see him fighting again.
“Tell them, too, that I appreciate very much their concern over my well-being when I lost by KO to Marquez and during the debate whether to fight in April. I treasure their concern and prayers that I recover quickly from my knockout loss. I want everyone to know that I am well and fully recovered. Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers.”
And who exactly will he be fighting in September?
“Marquez, according to news reports, doesn’t want to fight me for the fifth time. It actually is up to him,” he said. “Me? Well, everybody knows I’ll fight anyone. I am not scared of anybody. And that is the reason why boxing fans like me so much. I never avoid anyone. I don’t choose easy fights. I will fight anybody, anytime, anywhere.”
Despite that last part, clearly Pacquiao has his eyes set on a rematch with Marquez. Everything beyond that, all other potential foes, come way further down on the wish list.
“If he doesn’t want to fight me then I don’t want to fight him either. So be it. It’s that simple. He says he doesn’t want to fight me because he won our last fight? Well, I am still ahead in the tally of our last four fights. I won two, lost one and dres one,” said Pacquiao.
Pacquiao-Marquez V is the fight that makes the most sense right now, particularly from a financial standpoint, so inevitably that’s what is going to happen. You can almost hear it both of their voices when they talk – they’re mentally preparing themselves to write the final chapter in that rivalry.
Either way, though, it’s good to see Pacquiao up and about doing media rounds again. That’s the first step of a comeback. Step 2 will be officially naming an opponent.