RIZIN Fighting Federation confirmed that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao will not be fighting at RIZIN 15 this April. But the Japanese MMA promotion is setting its sights on a future exhibition bout for the “People’s Champ.”
Earlier this month, RIZIN FF made another recruitment coup as it signed Pacquiao for its April event.
He was the next marquee name in boxing to be signed by the fledgeling MMA outfit after Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.
Last New Year’s Eve, the retired undefeated boxer, Mayweather, starred in an exhibition match against kickboxing phenom, Tenshin Nasukawa, under special boxing rules.
“Money” made quick work of Japan’s local hero and reportedly earned a big payday from the bout.
This year, RIZIN FF president Nobukaki Sakakibara announced that Mayweather’s old rival, Pacquiao, will be joining RIZIN 15.
Unfortunately, it was announced shortly after that he will not be donning the gloves this April.
Instead, Pacquiao will grace the event as a guest to support his fellow Filipino combatant, Fritz Biagtan, who is scheduled to lock horns with Nasukawa in the main card.
— BoxingScene.com (@boxingscene) April 8, 2019
Days after the RIZIN FF chief announced the acquisition of Pacquiao, more details about the deal were revealed at a press conference in Tokyo.
In his previous announcement, Sakakibara highlighted that a “new gimmick” with ‘Pacman’ would be made.
This time, Sakakibara cleared that Pacquiao will not compete in the ring at the April 21 fight card.
According to him, the boxing champ has agreed to become the promotion’s new ambassador to help Filipino fighters find bigger opportunities in the combat sports world. (Quotes from MMA Fighting)
“This is not a fight contract.”
“This agreement was made based off of Manny Pacquiao supporting the young Filipino fighter who will be fighting Tenshin Nasukawa.”
“It seems as the deal was made more of an ambassador role for Filipino fighters to get bigger opportunities.”
“I would (definitely) be interested in talking to Manny about a possible exhibition match, but we are not quite there yet.”
Pacquiao Vs Gomi
But Sakakibara did not rule out seeing Pacquiao in a future RIZIN exhibition fight.
Citing his experience from the Mayweather deal, the promotion head honcho stressed Nasukawa might not be fielded in against the boxing champ.
Instead, Pacquiao might be facing veteran fighter, Takanori Gomi, who was Nick Diaz’s opponent at PRIDE 33 twelve years ago.
“But if it happens, I don’t think it would be against Tenshin. We learned a lot from dealing with Mayweather.”
“If anybody were to fight Manny in an exhibition, it would have to be (Takanori) Gomi.”
Pacquiao last saw action in a title-retention bid in January against Adrien Broner.
Pacman showed once again that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank after surviving Broner in an all-out 12-round war.
The 40-year old boxer retained his WBA welterweight title after scoring a unanimous decision victory and is being linked to a fight with Keith Thurman next.
— RENA (@SB_RENA) April 16, 2019
Check out the line-up for the upcoming RIZIN 15 courtesy of MMA Fighting:
Muhammed Lawal vs. Jiri Prochazka – for the light heavyweight title
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ben Nguyen
Kai Asakura vs. Justin Scoggins
Mikuru Asakura vs. Luiz Gustavo
Damien Brown vs. Koji Takeda
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Roberto Satoshi Souza
Manel Kape vs. Seiichiro Ito
Karl Albrektsson vs. Christiano Frohlich
Kana Watanabe vs. Justyna Haba
Shinju Auclair vs. Saray Orozco
Teshin Nasukawa vs. Fritz Biagtan — kickboxing bout
Taiga Kawabe vs. Thallison Ferreira — kickboxing bout
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/Manny Pacquiao and YouTube/VS)