American boxing legend Floyd Mayweather looks set to return to the ring in an exhibition bout in China next year against an opponent to be named.
The news will come as a blow to Manny Pacquiao, who has been chasing a rematch with Mayweather ever since losing a 12-round decision to the undefeated welterweight in Las Vegas in May 2015.
The popular Filipino has gone 5-1 since – losing to Jeff Horn in a close fight in Australia two years ago – and is coming off a victory over Keith Thurman that earnt him the WBA welterweight championship in July.
Mayweather’s last foray into the ring was a 136-second demolition of kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition bout in Saitama just outside Tokyo in Japan on New Years Eve, earning him a reported US$9 million.
The China exhibition promises another lucrative payday.
The Mission Hills Group has invited media to attend a press conference in Haikou, Hainan on September 18 to announce Mayweather’s “first fight in China”.
“The press conference will announce that Mayweather will hold a boxing match in China next year,” a spokesperson told the South China Morning Post. “We have already got the Hainan government’s temporary approval for this event.
“But everything needs to be confirmed with Floyd as well. The details are not 100 per cent confirmed yet. We are in the process of negotiating details with Mayweather’s management.”
No official date has yet been confirmed for the bout and the eventually opponent will be chosen through a recruitment campaign held in China.
“This match aims to enhance the friendship between two powerful nations through boxing, gaining popularity for Hainan in the role of an international tourism island and achieving Mission Hills’ vision of bringing world-class sports events to Haikou,” the media invitation added.