LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in November, most likely in Macau, and has signed a new two-year contract with promoter Bob Arum that could take him to the end of his career.
Arum said Tuesday that Juan Manuel Marquez is his first choice for Pacquiao's next fight, but other fighters — including Amir Khan — could be in the mix. A lot, he said, depends on whether Oscar De La Hoya emerges victorious in a power struggle within Golden Boy Promotions with his estranged CEO, Richard Schaefer.
"If Oscar takes over the company like he's talking about, we're open to those guys also," Arum told The Associated Press. "The other guy (Schaefer) says he won't deal with me, so we'll see what Oscar says."
Marquez moved into the picture for a fifth fight against Pacquiao with an impressive decision win Saturday over Mike Alvarado. Marquez, who knocked out Pacquiao the last time they met, is 1-2-1 against the Filipino fighter.
Pacquiao last fought April 12, beating Timothy Bradley in a rematch of Bradley's controversial decision win in their first fight. He began his comeback from the Marquez loss last November, when he beat Brandon Rios in the first major fight card in Macau, the Chinese gambling enclave.
"We're talking Macau tonight, that's our first choice," Arum said. "But there are other options. We'll see what Vegas has to offer and there could be an offer from the Mideast. But it will probably be Macau."
Arum, who has promoted Pacquiao since 2005, said the new two-year contract will begin after Pacquiao's next fight and will likely bring him to the end of his career in 2016. Pacquiao normally fights two times a year, meaning he would have five more fights.
"Manny is the kind of guy who is extraordinarily loyal and he's had a great career with us" Arum said. "We had to work out the different terms and that sort of stuff, but we got it done." Pacquiao is 35, an age where a lot of fighters begin slowing down, and will be 38 when the latest contract with Arum's Top Rank Promotions expires. He has been fighting professionally since age 16 and is now 56-5-2 and on the rebound with wins in his last two fights.
The one fight boxing fans have wanted for years, though, hasn't happened, and the new contract may mean it will never happen. Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he won't fight Pacquiao as long as Arum is his promoter, the latest in a series of conditions Mayweather has put on a possible fight.
But Arum said the two could fight in 2016 when Mayweather's deal with the Showtime network has expired, or next year if Showtime and rival network HBO agree to host the bout together. "HBO is willing to do it," Arum said. "And you never know, anything can happen in 2016."