Late last week, RIZIN Fighting Federation boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara hinted at a deal with Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
Sakakibara suggested that Pacquiao’s dealings with RIZIN would be linked to the April 21 RIZIN 15 card, now less than two weeks away, so a fight seemed unlikely from the get-go.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan this week, the RIZIN president clarified on the situation, explaining that Manny Pacquiao will not be fighting, but instead supporting the next opponent of Japanese kickboxing ace Tenshin Nasukawa, Fritz Biagtan.
“This is not a fight contract,” Sakakibara explained (via MMA Fighting). “This agreement was made based off of Manny Pacquiao supporting the young Filipino fighter who will be fighting Tenshin Nasukawa.”
Sakakibara added that he would love to have Pacquiao compete in an exhibition boxing match in the RIZIN ring, much like Floyd Mayweather did in December, but that Nasukawa would not be the Filipino boxer’s opponent. Instead, he’d like to see Pacquiao fight Japanese lightweight legend Takanori Gomi.
“I would (definitely) be interested in talking to Manny about a possible exhibition match, but we are not quite there yet,” Sakakibara said. “But if it happens, I don’t think it would be against Tenshin. We learned a lot from dealing with Mayweather. If anybody were to fight Manny in an exhibition, it would have to be (Takanori) Gomi.”
Tenshin Nasukawa also commented on RIZIN’s affiliation with Manny Pacquiao. He assured that he plans to take care of Pacquiao’s countryman Biagtan quickly to assure he’s able to leap right back into the RISE 59 kg kickboxing tournament.
”My opponent is a fighter that Manny Pacquiao will support,” Nasukawa said. “I know he will be an extremely tough opponent. I do not plan to take this lightly, but I am in the middle of the RISE tournament so I don’t have time to be losing to anybody right now.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/9/2019.