It’s official: living legend and all-time great Manny Pacquiao will become the latest big name boxer to fight in the Middle East. As per a news story from The Manila Times, the 43 year old superstar will face former sparring partner Jaber Zayani of France, this in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the eight-round bout to take place at a date to be confirmed in February.
Interestingly, the bout will be fought with 8-ounce gloves. As per the news story, Pacquiao signed on for the bout last week, at his home. Zayani says he told Manny personally to “prepare well,” telling Pac Man to his face that he will be giving him a “real fight.”
“I personally negotiated with the senator together with my team and after months of talks, we finally agreed to a face-off next year. He already signed the contract so it is a go,” Zayani said. “Call it an exhibition or something but when the senator signed the deal, I told him to prepare well because I’m going to give him a real fight. He then told me, ‘You better be prepared.’”
This one could prove interesting. Zayani, a 31 year old with an unbeaten 18-0(11) record who fights at 135 pounds, says he is looking at this bout as his way to really make a name for himself – at Pacquiao’s expense.
“I was honest with the senator that I’m looking at this as my biggest break which I will surely maximise. I aim to create a buzz and become a household name,” Zayani, who sparred Manny for the Keith Thurman fight, stated. “Sure, the organizers are calling this an exhibition but for me, it’s a chance to exhibit my talent as a future world champion.”
Before he faces his former spar-mate, Pacquiao will box YouTuber/MMA fighter DK Yoo, this in Seoul in December. Zayani says the real fight will come when he faces Pac Man. We will see. It will be interesting to see how much of a buzz the February exhibition makes, and whether or not Zayani is as good as his word in really going for it and trying his best to win. Zayani, a star in France, has never met anyone as special as Pacquiao; even the soon to be 44 year old version, his record failing to boast an obvious name. That said, the 31 year old is coming off three straight stoppage wins.
Will Pacquiao fight a real fight here? Maybe he will need to do so in order to not be embarrassed, or even defeated. Zayani has made it clear he is not looking at this as an exhibition affair.