Former 8-division world champion Manny Pacquiao will attempt to rekindle his glory days inside the ring and perhaps remain relevant as a sporting icon.
The 43-year-old Pacquiao will take on French superstar Jaber Zayani in a ring confrontation formally signed early last week at the former senator’s house in Makati City.
“I personally negotiated with the senator together with my team and after months of talks, we finally agreed to a face-off next year. He already signed the contract so it is a go,” said Zayani who was accompanied by business manager Nico Rojas.
Zayani said Pacquiao, through the help of Luis “Chavit” Singson, agreed to non-sanctioned 8-round bout using the regular 8-ounce gloves that is tentatively set mid-February at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.
“Call it an exhibition or something but when the senator signed the deal, I told him to prepare well because I’m going to give him a real fight. He then told me, ‘you better be prepared,’” said the Frenchman.
The 31-year-old Zayani once served as Pacquiao’s sparmate when the Filipino boxing icon trained for his welterweight bout against Keith Thurman in 2019.
Zayani, who signed a five-year multi-million promotional deal with Saudi Prince Al-Walid Ben Talal, is an unbeaten lightweight contender with a record of 18-0, 11 knockouts.
“I was honest with the senator that I’m looking at this as my biggest break which I will surely maximize. I aim to create a buzz and become a household name. Sure, the organizers are calling this an exhibition but for me, it’s a chance to exhibit my talent as a future world champion,” he said.
Just last month, Pacquiao signed up for a six-round exhibition match against Korean YouTuber DK Yoo which is scheduled on December 10 in Seoul, South Korea.
Pacquiao then agreed to take on Zayani when the deal was presented to him by his longtime trainer Nonoy Neri.