MANILA — WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao is willing to square up with mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor if his potential superfight with Floyd Mayweather fails to materialise, a spokesman said Sunday. But the Filipino boxing hero-turned-senator stressed that any fight with McGregor would have to be a boxing bout, not an MMA contest. “If McGregor will fight me in boxing, why not? But not in MMA. MMA is much different than boxing,” a spokesman quoted Pacquiao as saying a few days ago. “The fight can be at the 140-pound weight division. My normal weight when I’m not on training is just 141 or 142 pounds,” he said. Both Pacquiao, 38, and McGregor, 28, have been trying to lure the retired Mayweather back into the boxing ring. For Pacquiao, it would be a chance to avenge his defeat to Mayweather at their long-awaited showdown in 2015. Meanwhile Ireland’s McGregor, the first man to simultaneously hold Ultimate Fighting Championship titles in two weight divisions, has floated the idea of taking on the undefeated Mayweather, 39. In late November McGregor was issued a boxing license in the state of California in a development that fuelled speculation about a future showdown with Mayweather. Mayweather told ESPN’s First Take programme that a McGregor bout was the only thing that could tempt him back into the ring.
UFC boss Dana White also added further fuel to the fire this month when he offered to pay each $25 million, along with a cut of pay-per-view proceeds, to fight — an offer that Mayweather later batted down. Pacquiao has previously parlayed his sporting fame into a career in politics, getting elected to the influential Philippine Senate last year while still continuing to box professionally. The Filipino southpaw had briefly retired from the ring after beating American Tim Bradley in Las Vegas in April but soon made a comeback, saying he still felt like a youngster. In his last fight in November, Pacquiao reclaimed the World Boxing Organization welterweight title for the third time with a unanimous-decision victory over former champion Jesse Vargas in Las Vegas. Pacquiao has been engaged in ongoing talks with his American promoter about a possible fight with Australian Jeff Horn later this year.