Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino legend who has not boxed in the United States since 2016 because of an eight-figure debt to the IRS, plans to return to the U.S. to defend his secondary welterweight world title against Adrian Broner in January.
Pacquiao made the announcement Thursday during an appearance at a news conference in Manila for the non-profit International Sports Promotion Society, which named him an ambassador.
Pacquiao said he would be fighting Broner next, either on Jan. 12 or Jan. 19. The fight, which Pacquiao termed "90 percent" done, would likely take place in Las Vegas. However, a source with knowledge of the deal told ESPN the fight would be Jan. 19, not Jan. 12.
Although not publicized or formally announced, Pacquiao signed about two weeks ago with adviser Al Haymon, the Premier Boxing Champions founder, who controls several name welterweights, including Broner as well as world titleholders Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman.
Haymon also works with Floyd Mayweather and should Pacquiao defeat Broner, it would set him up for a potential spring rematch with Mayweather.
Pacquiao and Haymon were on opposite sides when he lost a decision to Mayweather in their 2015 mega welterweight title unification fight that shattered every combat sports revenue records, including for pay-per-views sold (4.6 million), overall revenue (about $600 million) and live gate ($72 million).
In mid-September, Mayweather and Pacquiao met in Tokyo, after which Mayweather announced on social media that he was coming out of retirement again and would fight Pacquiao in December. The December date is not happening but they are on track to meet in the spring.
At the event in Manila, Pacquiao mentioned that Mayweather would fight somebody on Dec. 31 and that he would fight in January in an effort to set up the rematch. However, a source close to Mayweather said he was not going to fight in December.
Pacquiao, the only fighter in boxing history to win world titles in eight weight classes, has not fought in the United States since a decision victory to win a welterweight world title from Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas in November 2016.
His last two fights have been overseas. In July 2017, in the fight that kicked off the Top Rank/ESPN partnership, Pacquiao lost the title by controversial decision to Jeff Horn in Horn's hometown of Brisbane, Australia, in his final fight with Top Rank as his promoter.
After a year off, Pacquiao returned this past July and knocked out Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round - Pacquiao's first KO since his 2009 victory over Miguel Cotto to win his first welterweight title -- to win a secondary welterweight belt that he will defend against Broner.
During his media appearance in Manila, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), who turns 40 in Dec. 17, said he is hoping for another convincing knockout when he faces Broner. "If I can finish it earlier than seven rounds, why not," Pacquiao said.
The fight with Matthysse was promoted by Pacquiao's MP Promotions but Top Rank had the right to handle distribution of the American broadcast.
Top Rank agreed to pay Pacquiao $1.7 million for the U.S. rights but that included a the right of a first negotiation and last look on the U.S. rights for his next fight.
After the Matthysse fight, Pacquiao claimed Top Rank owed him the $1.7 million but he had declined to sign the agreement he had agreed to granting Top Rank the broadcast rights for his next bout. They ultimately settled with Top Rank paying Pacquiao $300,000 on the Matthysse fight with Pacquiao no longer having any obligation to the company for his U.S. broadcast rights.
That allowed him to go with Haymon, who has a deal for PBC fights with Showtime and one with Fox, which will kick off on Dec. 22.
Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Cincinnati, who has won world titles in four weight classes, is 0-1-1 in his last two fights, having lost a clear decision to Mikey Garcia in July 2017 followed by a draw with Vargas in April.