Manny Pacquiao has been installed as a short-priced favourite to defeat former UFC star Conor McGregor in their mooted boxing bout.
BetOnline is offering odds of -1200 (1/12) on Pacquiao, while McGregor backers can get +700 (7/1).
WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao, 41, has fought some of the best in the business across his 25-year pro boxing career.
During that time, he has won world championships across eight separate weight classes and defeated numerous current and future Hall of Famers while racking up a record of 62-7-2 (39).
McGregor has had just one pro boxing bout, losing by 10th round knockout to Floyd Mayweather Jr three years ago.
Despite the 32-year-old Irishman’s lack of experience in boxing, he remains one of the biggest names in combat sports.
“The Senator Manny Pacquiao has always been up for new challenges,” Manny Pacquiao Promotions president Sean Gibbons told ESPN.
“Conor McGregor showed in his fight with Floyd Mayweather he has the skills to fight with the best boxers in the world, and considering that they are both global icons and in the global landscape we live in today would be a tremendous event.”
McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh confirmed the fight was in advanced negotiations.
“It’s in the works. Both boxers have agreed fundamentally. Behind the scenes there are a lot of terms and conditions, legal teams and managers that have to work out fine details,” Kavanagh told Boxing Productions TV.
“I believe it will happen. When? I’m not sure. I think it might be early next year. The wheels are in motion.
“It looks like I’ll be coaching boxing again.”
Pacquiao’s special assistant Jayke Joson revealed to ESPN that a large portion of the proceeds of the fight would be used to assist the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.
“For the sake of all the Filipino Covid-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” Joson said.
“The huge portion of his earnings will proceed to those who are affected nationwide by the pandemic.”
UFC boss Dana White insisted he knew nothing about the fight negotiations when asked about the bout at the post-fight media conference at UFC 253.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Listen, you guys have been asking me about Conor McGregor forever. Did you see Conor McGregor’s tweet? The retirement tweet? I’m retired, birthday cake, retired.”
Meanwhile, McGregor returned to social media last week to mock to old rival Mayweather, insisting he held back from using a full array of MMA strikes during their boxing match.
“Manny not so much,” he posted about whether to break the rules of a boxing match.
“But I will see how the build-up goes and wait to hear what bitter old Freddie Roach [Pacquiao’s long-term trainer] has to say and then make a decision.
“Boxing it is for now and I’m up for this!
“I hope no bottling takes place here. I’m already agreeing to these limited rules and holding back my full array of weapons. Let’s get it going guys.”
McGregor last fought in the Octagon in January when he stopped Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in the opening round.
When asked at the post-fight media conference what was next, he declared: “It’s me and Manny.”
Kavanagh said the opportunity to face the surefire future Hall of Famer was a no-brainer.
“This is for an amazing life experience,” he explained.
“If you look at Conor’s achievements, he’s won four world titles in mixed martial arts. He’s boxed 10 rounds with someone who some say is arguably the greatest boxer of all time.
“When he’s an old man looking back, why not have another crazy experience of travelling to the Middle East to fight Manny Pacquiao, who I think was the boxer of the decade in the 2000s.”