The boxing champion Manny Pacquiao will face former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor in the ring next year, part of proceeds from the fight going to coronavirus victims in the Philippines, Pacquiao’s office said on Saturday.
Both men are “getting ready for this one epic last boxing fight”, said Jayke Joson, special assistant to Pacquiao and also a Philippine senator.
Joson’s statement followed a tweet by McGregor in which the Irishman said he would be “boxing Pacquiao next in the Middle East”.
“We don’t deny it,” Joson said.
McGregor said on Twitter in June he was retiring for the third time. He first quit UFC in April 2016. In March 2019, he again announced he was hanging up his gloves, but on both occasions the retirements were short-lived.
Pacquiao, 41, is the only man in boxing history to hold world titles in eight different divisions. He beat Keith Thurman to win the WBA Welterweight Super Championship in July, taking his record to 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts.
Negotiations between representatives for Pacquiao and McGregor are “now starting to move on”, Joson said, adding that a “huge portion” of Pacquiao’s earnings would go to those affected by the pandemic.
Total confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines surpassed 300,000 on Saturday, while deaths rose to 5,284.
The Philippines has the most confirmed Covid-19 infections in south-east Asia and the region’s second-highest number of deaths, next to Indonesia.