It’s back to the drawing board for Manny Pacquiao.
A long rumored high-profile showdown with UFC superstar and boxing novice Conor McGregor is seemingly no longer in the mix for the legendary Filipino southpaw, who further teased the possibility of such a fight prior to the start of UFC 257. The Pay-Per-View headliner featured a rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier which aired live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
“Good night tonight Conor,” Pacquiao tweeted prior to the start of the UFC PPV main event. “Let’s make 2021 the best year ever for fight fans.”
It’s already one to forget for McGregor, who was knocked out in the 2nd round.
Even with Ireland’s McGregor just 0-1 on the boxing side—a 10th round knockout loss in the final fight of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s Hall of Fame career in Aug. 2017—there still existed a path for him to sell in boxing. A win on Saturday would have only enhanced the sideshow angle for such a showdown with Pacquiao, who has not fought since a 12-round win over unbeaten welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (29-1, 22KOs) in July 2019 but has been persistent in returning to the ring in 2021.
Such plans will have to seemingly have to come versus a real boxer.
“Beautiful thing about the fight game, anything can happen,” Pacquiao noted moments after the stunning result. “Congrats to Dustin Poirier. Huge win!”
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) remains the desired target for fellow welterweight titlists Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs) and Terence Crawford (37-0, 28KOs). Both fights have been frequently discussed in the past, with any plans for a three-belt unification versus Spence derailed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Pacquiao—a full-time senator in his native Philippines—was reportedly in serious talks for a title unification bout with Crawford last fall, only for such plans to fall apart due to external issues through no fault of either side.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox