"Manny Pacquiao will follow the money and fight Mikey Garcia in Saudi Arabia," insists expert trainer
It's been eight whole months since eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao last competed in the squared circle.
Although the boxing legend has guaranteed his return to the ring in 2020, no one is exactly sure against whom he'll be defending his Super WBA Welterweight crown.
In a recent interview with ABS-CBN in the Philippines, the Pacman has once again narrowed the competition to three strong candidates.
"There are a lot of possible opponents," Manny Pacquiao recently stated to ANC 24/7. "Either Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence or (Terence) Crawford. And also there are boxers from Mexico and Canada who want to fight me."
When asked if he had a preference, the 41-year-old Senator seemed quick to respond.
"That's Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia."
"My plan is to fight again and get back in the ring the second or third week of July. Training should start in April."
With a shortlist of quality Welters, as well as a target date already designated for Team Pacquiao, fight fans should expect to hear an official announcement sometime this month.
But exactly who, where, when and why?
"Manny will be fighting Mikey Garcia in Saudi Arabia," says the three-decade boxing coach.
Even though it's been reported that Bob Arum has already reached out to Manny's handlers regarding a potential unification bout with current WBO titlist and pound for pound fighter Terence Crawford, the experienced boxing coach doesn't believe Top Rank and ESPN has a realistic chance to land a fight with the Pacman.
"Manny's going to go where the money is, okay. He's got more belts than he needs. If Saudia Arabia throws that 'Joshua-type' of money at him, he's going to go over there."
"The Saudis can put up $40 or $50 million for the site fee...Arum can't compete with that. With Crawford? No way."
Despite Pacquiao/Crawford being a preferred match-up among die-hard fans and boxing critics, Gogue insists the decision will come down to whether or not Eddie Hearn can sell the fight with four-division champ Mikey Garcia to his Saudi Arabian benefactors.
The fact that Terence currently has the WBO Welterweight title around his waist will be a moot point according to the experienced adviser and trainer.
"It's all about the money for Manny. He knows he doesn't have much time left in this business. So what do you do? You go for the biggest payday. It doesn't matter if it's a unification bout with Crawford."
"If it only pays half of what he'd get for fighting Mikey Garcia, he'll go to Saudi Arabia."
Current WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua fought Andy Ruiz Jr. this past December at the Diriyah Arena, a 15,000 seat venue built specifically for the heavyweight title fight, for a mammoth site fee of $40 million.
Gogue believes Hearn won't experience any problems matching that figure for a fight with the legendary Pacman.
"They proved with Joshua vs. Ruiz 2 that the Saudis are willing and able to put up the money to do it. Eddie Hearn isn't afraid that they'll pull out a month before the fight with claims that they don't have the funding. They've proven themselves as legitimate players in the fight game, and Manny will go where the money takes him."
The event between Joshua and Ruiz was a stark success for all parties involved, with both fighters taking home career-high paydays despite receiving mainstream political criticism for allegedly "sportswashing" Saudi Arabia's human rights violations.
With Senator Pacquiao being a devout Roman Catholic, would Manny's faith be an issue that could potentially hinder a deal being made for a fight in Saudi Arabia?
"I really don't think religion will be a factor," states James Gogue.
"They just want to see a good fight. Regardless of what religion he is, they know Manny Pacquiao is an international star and a future Hall of Famer. That's what they're trying to do over there, is bring in the biggest stars of the sport."
"Manny is one of the biggest stars of the past 20 years, and Saudi Arabia has the money to do it...they did it with Joshua."
The knowledgeable boxing coach and manager believes a targeted fight between Pacquiao and Garcia was the primary reason why DAZN decided to pay Mikey $7 million for his streaming network debut last Saturday in an entertaining but not scintillating match-up with two-division titlist Jessie Vargas.
"That's been there plan all along. DAZN wanted to work with Mikey Garcia, to set up a fight with Manny Pacquiao. That's why they offered him such a huge purse...far beyond his market value. It was an investment."
Fans and critics will see if the investment pays off for both DAZN and Matchroom Sport this summer.
Related FightSaga Stories
- MANNY PACQUIAO
- PACQUIAO VS GARCIA
- MIKEY GARCIA
- Matchroom Sport
- EDDIE HEARN
- JAMES GOGUE
- FightSaga Radio
Why Garcia? Spence fight is more entertaining & colorful
Pacman is no longer a Catholic, but a born-again Christian. Good analysis, now I think he will fight Mikey alright if Hearn can give a good purse.. Saudi Arabia is host to thousands of Filipino workers, Philippines doesn't think about the politics there, so...