Making the Rounds: Pacquiao won't rule out McGregor bout; Casimero wants Inoue

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·5-min read

The odds of Manny Pacquiao ever fighting former UFC double champion Conor McGregor were long to begin with, but the ongoing Twitter battle between McGregor and UFC president Dana White — it’s hard to call it a feud — isn’t going to help.

Since McGregor is under contract with the UFC, he’d need White’s consent to move forward with a boxing match against Pacquiao. McGregor manager Audie Attar, who may or may not be Pacquiao’s manager, depending upon whom you ask, told Yahoo Sports last week that he’d gotten that permission.

“We met with the UFC, and they are on board,” Attar said. “We’ve done it once before, and we will do it again.”

The UFC has not publicly backed Attar’s version of events, which should be interpreted as them not backing it. But there are so many complicating factors on Pacquiao’s side that make that unlikely.

There is little reason for Pacquiao, who will be 42 in December, to pursue that bout given the number of lucrative boxing matches that are out there for him. The Saudi government pitched Pacquiao on a July 11 bout with Mikey Garcia in the kingdom, and it would have occurred had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 20:  Manny Pacquiao blows a kiss to the crowd as he celebrates his split-decision victory over Keith Thurman in their WBA welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Manny Pacquiao blows a kiss to the crowd as he celebrates his split-decision victory over Keith Thurman in their WBA welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sean Gibbons, the head of Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, told Yahoo Sports that Pacquiao won’t be fighting this year.

“Logic would tell you that with the kind of money the senator is going to command for any fight he takes, there would have to be some fans in the stands,” Gibbons told Yahoo Sports. “It’s the same with [Deontay] Wilder and [Tyson] Fury and Anthony Joshua. You need crowds to generate the kind of money it takes to put on an event like that.”

Gibbons said Pacquiao hasn’t ruled out a McGregor bout, but said he no longer has anything to prove and said Pacquiao is on what he called “sort of a victory lap.”

Gibbons said Pacquiao will fight the fights his fans want him to take.

“The senator is long past the point of having to prove anything,” Gibbons said. “He’s in his 26th year and with what he’s done, it’s enough to get him in the Hall of Fame 10 times over. He wants to give the fans what they want.

“Let’s be honest, here: At this stage, there is nothing he could do to top what he’s already done. What does it mean to him now to beat the best welterweights out there? Been there, done that. At this point, Manny is on a sort of a victory lap, and he’ll let the fans speak and then make a decision.”

Casimero garners interest

He was supposed to fight Naoya Inoue instead, but when the coronavirus made it impossible to get the pound-for-pound great into the country, John Riel Casimero switched gears and fought Duke Micah on Saturday in Uncasville, Connecticut, on the pay-per-view card headlined by the Charlo brothers.

Casimero scored an impressive third-round knockout. Gibbons said Casimero still wants to fight Inoue, who now will fight Jason Moloney at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Oct. 31.

“I’m the real monster,” Casimero said, referring to Inoue’s nickname. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. He’s next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Gibbons said he had spoken briefly with Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who co-promotes Inoue, and said Arum wasn’t interested.

Gibbons, who used to work for Arum, let his old boss have it.

“I told him what John Riel was looking for and he said that John Riel wanted more money to fight Inoue than he’d made in his whole career,” Gibbons said. “So what, Bob Arum is counting Casimero’s money now? Is that the fight to make? He’s paid all of these other guys crazy money, but he’s worried about what Casimero makes?

“It’s OK, because John Riel opened a lot of eyes with his performance. [Showtime’s] Stephen Espinoza is interested in working with him again. He has options so if Bob wants to run scared and try to pretend money is the issue — which it is not — it’s fine because it’s not like that’s our only path.”

Taylor dominates with body shot

Josh Taylor retained the IBF-WBA super lightweight titles with a ridiculously easy first-round KO of Apinun Khongsong, who was one of the worst mandatory challengers in a long time. One might have to go back to Morrad Hakkar who challenged Bernard Hopkins in 2003 to find a less worthy mandatory.

This is a problem boxing has to solve. The sanctioning organizations frequently put up weak mandatory challengers who don’t do much business and who often prevent quality fights from occurring.

Boxing needs more, not less, unification bouts. The fight to make now for Taylor is against WBC-WBO champion Jose Ramirez.

It would be for the undisputed title and would be a legitimate big-time fight. Don’t be surprised, though, if one or both of the champs has to surrender a belt in order to make the fight because of the ridiculous nature of the mandatory system in boxing.

He said it

“If this is true, Manny Pacquiao will have an easier time with you, Conor McGregor, than when he fought Ricky Hatton.” — Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach on Twitter after news broke of a possible Pacquiao-McGregor fight.

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