Eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao is hoping to make a ring return on June 24 in Malaysia, and he hopes that fight will come against Argentina's World Boxing Association "regular" welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse.
While Pacquiao announced that contest as a done deal to press members in the Philippines, his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank had advised BoxingScene.com that a bout against Matthysse was far from a done deal.
“[Pacquiao and his handlers are] hoping to do a deal in Malaysia,” Arum said to BoxingScene. “I haven’t been handling that deal. They’ve been handling that deal themselves. Hopefully the money, in the form of a deposit, turns up. Matthysse is one of the guys that Manny is thinking about fighting. There are others. For example, if Jose Ramirez wins the 140-pound title Manny might fight him for that title. That part is up in the air."
The 39-year-old's own company, MP Promotions, will be the lead promoter of the event.
Pacquiao said he considers himself the "underdog" against the brawling Matthysse, 35, who has 39 wins -- all but three of them via the short route -- against four losses.
He says Matthysse is his opponent of choice, because of his fighting style.
"This is going to be a tough fight. Matthysse is also a knockout artist. But I'm excited to fight and be a world champion again," Pacquiao said.
"I'm the underdog in this fight but I'm used to it. It serves as a big motivation for me to train and fight hard to win the crown. I like his aggressive fighting style. That's what I want, to entertain the boxing fans. [Matthysse is] not a dirty fighter."
The Filipino's trainer Restituto Fernandez said he expects the contest, if they finalized it, to be "a real brawl because Matthysse is an aggressive fighter".
Pacquiao, winner of 59 bouts against seven losses and two draws, lost his World Boxing Organisation welterweight title to Australia's Jeff Horn last year in a huge upset in Brisbane, Australia.
The Filipino southpaw, who has enjoyed a glittering 23-year pro career, retired briefly in 2016 but made a comeback to retake his WBO title from Jessie Vargas just months later.
The last of his 38 knockout wins came more than eight years ago.