SAITAMA, Japan — Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in 2023.
The boxing legend announced Saturday that he has a deal in place with Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation to compete next year. Pacquiao made the announcement in the ring during Rizin’s New Year’s Eve card at Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo.
Pacquiao did not go into details about the nature of the fight but said he would face a Japanese fighter. Rizin puts on bouts primarily in MMA, but also kickboxing and boxing.
Sources told ESPN that Pacquiao is likely to take part in an exhibition boxing match following the success of those types of bouts in Japan with Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao’s rival Mayweather has done two exhibition boxing matches with Rizin, in 2018 and in September. For the latter, Pacquiao was in the front row when Mayweather defeated Rizin MMA fighter and popular YouTuber Mikuru Asakura.
Pacquiao dominated South Korean martial artist and influencer DK Yoo in an exhibition boxing match Dec. 11 in Goyang, South Korea.
The Rizin event Saturday featured a main card pitting MMA fighters from Rizin against fighters from Bellator MMA, headlined by a bout between Bellator rising star AJ McKee and Rizin lightweight champion Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza. Combat sports events on New Year’s Eve has been a tradition in Japan dating back to 2000.