Manny Pacquiao is three years removed from fighting in the most lucrative bout in combat sports history when he fell to Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The titanic clash that produced a dud in the ring generated more than $500 million in revenue and broke the record for pay-per-view buys with 4.4 million. The price tag to watch Mayweather and Pacquiao from home was $100.
Pacquiao is back on a pay-to-watch fight. Only this time, not many are willing to pay to watch the former eight-division champion even if it only costs $5.
After a one-year hiatus, Pacquiao will continue his boxing career at age 39 with a 69th professional fight on Saturday when he faces Lucas Matthysse from the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The welterweight fight will air at 6 p.m. on the $4.99 per month ESPN+ mobile app.
“I have never predicted the outcome of any of my fights, but this training camp is special for many reasons,” Pacquiao said. “I am motivated. I am happy. I am hungry. I am excited to show the world a new Manny Pacquiao.”
Not many expect Pacquiao to turn back the clock and be the dominant boxer he was during a 15-fight winning streak from 2005 to 2011.
This might be another case of a fighter staying in the ring well after his prime.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 knockouts) appeared to return to elite form after cruising to wins versus Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas in 2016. Then it all quickly came crashing down last July in Australia when Jeff Horn shocked the boxing world to defeat Pacquiao by unanimous decision.
Instead of retiring and focusing solely on his duties as a senator in the Philippines, Pacquiao decided to return for another fight away from Las Vegas and the U.S.
He also won’t have longtime trainer Freddie Roach in his corner for the first time in 16 years. Pacquiao parted ways with Roach this year and promoted close friend Buboy Fernandez to control the corner.
Pacquiao vows he still has plenty left in the tank. He’s not ready to pass the torch like Oscar De La Hoya did to him a decade ago.
“Pacquiao has a very unique style,” said De La Hoya, who promotes Matthysse. “When I fought him, I thought he was going to get tired. He never got tired. So I don’t know what Pacquiao we are going to see for this fight.
“I don’t know how distracted he may be. I do know that Matthysse is fully focused and determined.”
Pacquiao said he’s angling toward a Las Vegas bout with top pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year if he performs well against Matthysse.
Many boxing fans are probably hoping the future Hall of Famer isn’t thinking about fighting after 2018.