Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn’t the only boxing superstar making news this week.
While the retired Mayweather continues to flirt with a fantasy bout with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, boxing’s active stars Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao have dates for their next fights.
Alvarez is expected to return to Las Vegas for a May 6 bout at T-Mobile Arena against an opponent to be named. Pacquiao is leaving Las Vegas for the first time since 2014 to start a world tour April 22 against Jeff Horn, possibly in Australia.
Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, confirmed Golden Boy Promotions’ request to reserve T-Mobile Arena for Alvarez, who is returning from a broken thumb sustained in a victory against Liam Smith in September. The NAC is expected to approve the reservation during a Friday meeting.
Bennett is optimistic Golden Boy Promotions will keep its T-Mobile Arena date for Cinco de Mayo Weekend. The Los Angeles-based company also booked the new arena in September, but decided to take the Mexican star to Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the fight against Smith.
“I would say they’re very serious about coming here,” Bennett said. “Jerry Jones also had an offer last time. It’s a business, and it happens. Golden Boy is very excited to come back here and having Canelo fighting at the T-Mobile Arena for the Mexican holiday weekend.
“They haven’t said who the opponent is, but they anticipate T-Mobile Arena being sold out.”
Alvarez reportedly had been in negotiations to fight fellow Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a catchweight of 165 pounds. Alvarez has never fought above 155 pounds and is the WBO junior middleweight champion.
Another possible opponent for Alvarez is WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, who has the only 160-pound belt that Gennady Golovkin doesn’t own.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 knockouts) has his opponent set for his WBO welterweight defense, but Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) is a virtual unknown to most boxing fans. Horn, from Brisbane, Australia, caught the attention of Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, during a knockout win against Ali Funeka in New Zealand last month.
Arum was in attendance for the Andy Ruiz-Joseph Parker heavyweight bout. During his time in New Zealand, Arum cut a promotional deal with Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, which promotes Horn and Parker.
Arum said Brisbane’s 50,000-seat stadium is the front-runner to land the fight.
“Jeff Horn is the guy, but we still have details to work out,” Arum said. “I’ll be going to the Philippines soon to meet Manny and finalize the deal. While we work on that, we have a bidding for what state in Australia lands the fight. The Middle East is also in the picture.”
Arum hopes this is the start of a four-fight world tour in 2017 for Pacquiao. Arum wants Pacquiao to return in July for a fight in Russia, a bout in the U.K. in the fall against Kell Brook and ending the tour in Las Vegas versus Terence Crawford in late November or early December.
“The world wants to see Manny,” Arum said. “Hopefully there’s a Russian guy Manny can face, and we’re already in talks with Eddie Hearn for Kell Brook. These are big fights, and Manny is up for it.”
Arum is still undecided if the Pacquiao-Horn fight will be on pay per view or regular television. He’s thinking of having Mexican champions Oscar Valdez and Gilberto Ramirez be on the PPV undercard in the United States on the usual Saturday evening, then airing the main event with Pacquiao and Horn, which would be Sunday afternoon in their local time.
Asking Pacquiao to fight four times in one year seems like a daunting task for the 38-year-old senator. The Filipino hasn’t fought more than twice in a year since 2008.
“I don’t want to call this a farewell tour,” Arum sad. “Who knows how long Manny wants to fight. But he can do the four fights. He prefers to be active during the senate. Six-week camps are grueling. With this, he’ll maintain a fighting shape all year round.”