Manny Pacquiao 'Ready to Go' for Conor Benn Fight in Saudi Arabia in May/June

Manny Pacquiao said he never cut corners in his training, whether it was for an exhibition bout like the one he’s scheduled to do in April, or a full-fledged return to the sport, as he’s poised to do now.

Pacquiao, 45, told BoxingScene Thursday following a face-to-face meeting with England’s Conor Benn that he intends to leave Saudi Arabia this weekend with a signed contract to fight the 27-year-old in Saudi Arabia.

“I’m in shape, ready to go, and the months we gave them [to schedule the fight] are May and June,” Pacquiao told BoxingScene minutes after he was interviewed in Saudi Arabia on DAZN’s live stream of the Anthony Joshua-Francis Ngannou weigh-in.

Pacquiao, a month in to his training for an April 20 exhibition bout against Muay Thai/kickboxing legend Buakaw Banchamek, said he hasn’t cut any corners from his typical training regimen that helped make him a record eight-division boxing champion and a long-reigning pound-for-pound king.

It appeared Pacquiao would retire following his narrow 2021 defeat on the scorecards against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas, but he said the competitive juices began flowing again in training, and the possibility of fighting Benn was mentioned.

“It’s been the same preparation. I know I can do this,” Pacquiao told BoxingScene.

Why Benn?

The confident son of U.K. legend and former champion Nigel Benn has emerged from a 2022 ban after testing positive for the banned women’s fertility drug clomifene and won two fights since, improving to 23-0 with 14 KOs.

“He’s popular here [in Saudi Arabia and the U.K.] and he’s willing to fight me now,” Pacquiao said. “I’ve seen it. He has a lot of fans here. I expect us to finalize it this weekend, and I think we’ll fight here in Saudi Arabia.”

Pacquiao, who visited the Joshua-Ngannou fight site in Riyadh previously, said he’s “so thankful” to His Excellency Turki Alalshikh “for inviting me here again and for all the support he has given boxing and all sports.

“I’m so excited.”

Benn said on the DAZN weigh-in stream that he’s drawn to meet Pacquiao because “the public demands it, and I’ll fight any man, any legend. Let’s get pen to paper and get it done now.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said he and Pacquiao advisor Sean Gibbons will begin discussions immediately, telling the interviewer boxing can be magical in moments like this when “idols become rivals.”