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Planned Pacquiao fight takes a hit after McGregor UFC loss

THE planned boxing fight between Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao and mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Conor McGregor has been rendered in doubt after the Irishman suffered a technical knockout loss in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) return at the weekend.

Penciled to take place this year, organizers of the Pacquiao-McGregor fight were reportedly in deep discussion for a lucrative combat sports event between the two icons, similar to that of Mr. McGregor’s battle with undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in 2017.

Reports have it that following the UFC fight of Mr. McGregor against Dustin Poirier, and in the event the former wins, discussion over his showdown with Mr. Pacquiao would further pick up, if not finalized.

Unfortunately, Mr. McGregor lost to Mr. Poirier by way of a second-round technical knockout in their encounter last Sunday at “UFC 257” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“The Notorious” was seemingly in control of the contest before Mr. Poirier picked up his attack in the second round, connecting on solid calf and leg kicks to steadily tear down the former UFC lightweight champion. The American finished Mr. McGregor with a flurry of punches, which eventually forced the referee to stop the fight at the 2:32 mark of the round.

Mr. McGregor offered no excuses for the loss, saying that Mr. Poirier did well in following his game plan in winning.

Interestingly, Mr. McGregor, too, casts a doubt on the planned Pacquiao fight following his UFC defeat.

“Let’s just see what happens. That Manny fight was happening. It was as good as done. Now, I don’t know,” said Mr. McGregor post-fight just as he vowed to bounce back from the latest setback in his career.

For local combat sports analyst Nissi Icasiano, the Pacquiao-McGregor fight did take a hit with the result of UFC 257 and that he would not be surprised if organizers do reconsider their plans to push through with it.   

“With the TKO loss to Poirier of McGregor, the fighting senator’s camp should expect that the interest for that fight to happen will dip a little. The big difference when Mayweather fought McGregor in 2017 was the Irishman had just won his second world title in the UFC and achieved the feat of becoming the first fighter to ever hold two UFC titles simultaneously. There was a justifiable hype behind McGregor at that time,” said Mr. Icasiano in an online interview with BusinessWorld.

“With this, I won’t be surprised if McGregor turns out to be just another option on the table from being Manny Pacquiao’s top choice. Now, it’s a good time for promoters like Al Haymon and Bob Arum to build up the stars of the respective stables such as Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford [as Pacquiao opponents]. The ball is now in their court,” he added.

Meanwhile, American boxer Ryan Garcia, 22, is being floated as well as a possible opponent for eight-division champion Pacquiao, 42.

Mr. Garcia (21-0) even announced on Twitter on Monday that he was fighting the Filipino legend.

The team of Mr. Pacquiao, however, have yet to confirm the announcement as of this writing. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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