A rematch of the richest fight in boxing history – between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – is under discussion even though both men claim they have retired.
Not only that but Amir Khan may get his dream fight with Pacquiao – over three rounds at the Rio Olympics.
Promoter Bob Arum has confirmed that there is a ‘better than 50-50 chance’ of Mayweather-Pacquiao II following the PacMan’s impressive victory in his third fight with Tim Bradley on Saturday night.
That followed talks between Mayweather and the boss of the US television cable network Showtime, Stephen Espinoza, who said: ‘If there is a demand for this fight I believe Floyd will give it strong consideration.
‘It is up to the fans and the media but if people are interested and make their voices heard we will start working on it.’
Amir Khan could fight Pacquiao at the Rio Olympics as professionals are now allowed to compete
The chances of Khan finally boxing Pacquiao hardened as he expressed a desire to go to Rio if plans for top professionals to compete in those Games are approved.
Khan, in the course of promoting next month’s surprise challenge for the world middleweight title in a Las Vegas superfight against Mexican idol Canelo Alvarez, said: ‘I am very interested in trying to turn my silver medal at the Athens Games into gold in Rio. My trainer Virgil Hunter and I will sit down after the Canelo fight in May and see if we can fit the Olympics into my schedule.’
Khan would compete in the same weight division as Pacquiao, who has already responded positively to suggestions from the Philippines government and the boxing federation there for him to try to win his country’s first Olympic gold medal.
The Bolton-born fighter last fought in May 2015 against Chris Algieri and faces Canelo Alvarez in May
Both men were approached by the leaders of world amateur boxing at a tournament in Qatar and promised exemptions from the current Olympics qualifying process.
Most top professionals are shying away from boxing against young amateurs but AIBA are getting ready to vote on the admission of world champions to the boxing events in Rio.
Pacquiao declared he would retire from the ring to concentrate on gaining election to the Philippines Senate after the Bradley fight but having boxed well said: ‘I will go home to think about my future.’
Arum, talking to the TMZ website, said: ‘Given all his charity work building schools and hospitals I think Manny may need another big pay day.’
The rematch with Mayweather would not gross the $600million of the first fight, a lacklustre affair after which Pacquiao revealed he was handicapped by a shoulder injury which then required major surgery.
But if it only banked half that amount it would still be the second-richest fight ever.
Espinoza told Ring Magazine that Pacquiao’s performance against Bradley had reawakened the interest of Mayweather, whose permanent retirement is doubted by many in boxing.
Espinoza said: ‘Pacquiao looked as good as at any time in the last four years. He was active, quick and showed power in knocking down Bradley twice in the fight. Mayweather has been looking for something to peak his interest. If people show they think the fight would have been different if Pacquiao had not been injured, that could motivate him to get back into training camp.’
Mayweather has repeatedly insisted he is happy in retirement and posted a message on social media in March saying that he was ‘blessed’ to hang up his gloves before his 40th birthday.
‘As I sit here acknowledging how blessed I am to be retired a year shy of my 40th birthday, it’s impossible to say that I am not living the “American Dream”,’ he wrote.
‘I’m blessed to wake up every morning certain that my bank accounts are growing.’
Despite his contentment, it would be hard for a man nicknamed ‘Money’ to turn down the riches on offer in a rematch.
Bob Arum says he wouldn’t be surprised if Pacquiao fought again.
‘He is likely to just call it a day right now, I’d say there’s a good chance he’s walking away … but would I be shocked if he said he wanted to fight again? No,’ he said.