Manny Pacquiao has a 'possibility' of fighting in Saudi Arabia later this year

Filipino world champion has not fought since last July, when he inflicted Keith Thurman’s first career defeat

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Manny Pacquiao has not ruled out a return to the ring this year, with Saudi Arabia a possibility should the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic allow it.

The Filipino, 41, has not fought since last July, when he inflicted Keith Thurman's first career defeat, winning by split decision in Las Vegas to secure the WBA (super) welterweight crown.

Pacquiao had been expected to fight again this summer, with a match-up touted against unbeaten WBO champion Terence Crawford, IBF belt-holder Errol Spence Jr or Mikey Garcia. An eight-division champion whose record stands at 62-7-2 (39 KOs), Pacquiao has been linked with a possible comeback fight in Saudi or Bahrain.

Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum on Tuesday, MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons said his client could fight this year, saying: "There’s a possibility, but you got to remember, there’s a lot of things that have to happen. First of all, Covid-19 needs to rapidly get slowed down in the US or in Saudi Arabia, where we’ve had offers.

"Now, if somehow Saudi Arabia, who has shown great interest in the senator fighting there before Covid-19 hit, if they were to come around, that would be good for the senator because he wouldn’t really have to miss that much time like he does, having to come to the US."

A sitting senator in his homeland, Pacquiao has a limited window to compete. He fought twice in 2019 – he defeated Adrien Broner on points in January last year – and before that dispatched Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur by TKO in July 2018 to capture the WBA (regular) welterweight crown.

Still, it remains to be seen when Pacquiao will be back to defend his belt.

"The other thing is the senator’s schedule, again,” Gibbons said. “You got to remember, his time to fight is generally July, January, July, January due to his schedule in the senate.

"It’s too early still to tell if he will be able to return. We’re right in the heat of Covid-19, so everybody is really kind of in a holding pattern.”