By Radio Rahim
Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum is mapping out a plan of attack for the ring return of eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao in 2018.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), who recently turned 39 years old, was only in action once in 2017.
He was last seen back in July, when he traveled to Brisbane and suffered a twelve round decision loss to heavy underdog Jeff Horn before a packed crowd of 51,000 at the Suncorp Stadium. There varied opinions on whether or not Horn did enough in the fight to deserve the unanimous decision win.
A rematch with Horn was planned for November, but it was called off when the Filipino superstar cited conflicts with his work schedule as a senator in the Philippines.
Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) instead fought, and made his first title defense by stopping British challenger Gary Concoran in the eleventh round earlier this month in Brisbane.
Now Horn must make a mandatory world title defense of the WBO welterweight crown against Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs). That fight is being targeted for a date of April 21, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas - if Arum is able to get both sides on the same page to finalize the deal. If they are unable to reach an agreement on the terms, then the WBO will call for a purse bid.
Arum wants Pacquiao to fight a top welterweight, likely on a date in April, and then head straight into a fall showdown with a the winner of Horn-Crawford.
"Manny Pacquiao's plan revolves so much around the politics, how much he's needed by the President. I would like for him to come back in April. I'm working on that. Whether or not I can accomplish that I don't know, we'll see. Pacquiao is more of a politician-senator than he is a boxing. We'll try [to make his comeback fight]," Arum told BoxingScene.com.
"I think we'll give him a fight against a top welterweight where we are confident, or hope, that he will be successful. And then have him fight the Horn-Crawford winner in the fall."