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Pacquiao’s congressional duties delay return to ring until May

Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring May 7, after deciding that April 16, the date originally reserved by promoter Top Rank, conflicted with his political duties.

Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts), a world champion in eight weight classes, was elected to Congress in his native Philippines in May.

Pacquiao’s opponent will probably be determined Friday when he, adviser Michael Koncz, trainer Freddie Roach and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum meet in the Philippines. The MGM Grand Garden is expected to host the bout.

“Manny will make his decision, but we’re not going to announce anything until we finalize the deal with his opponent,” Arum said Wednesday from the Philippines. “There’s still going to be some tweaking of the contract that we’ll have to do.”

Arum met with Pacquiao for about an hour Monday in Manila to discuss offers from Shane Mosley, Andre Berto and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Golden Boy Promotions had secured the MGM Grand Garden for May 7, a date approved earlier this month by the Nevada Athletic Commission. But Golden Boy is willing to swap dates with Top Rank and stage its card April 16.

Golden Boy chief executive officer Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he would not stand in the way of a Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas.

“We are holding May 7 at the MGM, but, of course, if Pacquiao is going to fight, I would step aside and give the date to Pacquiao and switch to April 16 for what we were planning on doing,” Schaefer said.

While Mosley remains the favorite to be Pacquiao’s next foe, Schaefer continues to stump for Marquez, who fought Pacquiao to a draw in 2004 and lost a 12-round split decision to him in 2008.

“I really think if Pacquiao is going to fight May 7, on Cinco de Mayo weekend, you have to do Marquez on the Mexican holiday,” Schaefer said. “Do you know how big that would be? It’s a big fight no matter when it would be, but it would be even bigger on the Mexican holiday in Las Vegas.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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