Manny Pacquiao wasted no time in moving on from another layoff of Floyd Mayweather by signing him up for an exhibition fight.
The eight-weight world champion is still being linked with a rematch with Mayweather seven years after their fight in Las Vegas.
However, Mayweather has moved on to a potential clash in Dubai later this year, possibly in November. This scenario leaves “Pac-man” free as a bird.
The Philippine legend, the eight-weight leader, will face former sparring partner Jaber Zayani early next year.
Pacquiao and Zayani met a couple of years ago before the 43-year-old retired from professional boxing.
Jordenis Ugas filled in for failed headliner Errol Spence in the United States before Pacquiao was defeated by unanimous decision.
Since then, Pacquiao has agreed to trade with YouTube fighter DK Yoo and now Zayani. That leaves a second meeting with Mayweather off the table until at least May 2023.
Zayani, 18-0 and holder of the WBC Asia belt, made his professional debut in 2012. But less than two fights a year for a decade tell their own story.
Facing the man who became the oldest middleweight title holder in July 2019, Zayanis is excited for the opportunity to elevate his status.
“I personally and my team conducted negotiations with the senator. After several months of negotiations, we finally agreed on a face-to-face meeting next year,” said Zayani.
“He’s already signed the contract, so it’s on the way,” Zayani added after tapping Filipino business manager Nick Rojas as an adviser.
Pacquiao vs. Zayani
Luis “Chavit” Singson, who has a rocky past with Pacquiao, helped oversee the unsanctioned eight-round contest.
Pacquiao and Zayani will use eight-ounce gloves for the clash, which is tentatively scheduled for mid-February at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Continuing to discuss the Pacquiao clash, Zayani added: “Call it an exhibition or whatever, but when the senator signed the deal, I told him to prepare well because I’m going to give him a real fight.
“Then he said to me, ‘you better be ready’ because they both promised fireworks.
“I was honest with the senator [Pacquiao is no longer in the Philippine senate after losing the Presidential election and being removed from the party] that I look at it as my biggest break.
“I’m definitely maximizing it. But I’m trying to make a splash and become a household name.
“Of course, the organizers call it an exhibition. But for me, this is a chance to show my talent in the world of the future the champion.
“It will be a December party [fight against DK Yoo] for a senator. But as soon as he meets me on the right, he gets French toast.
Those words are a far cry from when Zayani was happy to learn sparring from Pacquiao.
At the time, he stated, “When idols become rivals. It is too smooth. This man teaches me so much.
“So now I think I can beat anybody if I get it from him.”
The question now is, does he believe he can beat Manny Pacquiao?