But promoter says deal 'long way to go'
(2ND UPDATE) A deal that would pit Manny Pacquiao and Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in a boxing bout is being worked out, Pacquiao's camp announced on Saturday.
According to Jake Joson, special assistant to Pacquiao, the event could be held in the Middle East next year, with the earnings going to COVID-19 mitigation and treatment efforts in the Philippines.
"It is confirmed the negotiation between the camp of Senator Pacquiao and McGregor is now starting to move on," Joson said in a statement.
"Our beloved Senator doesn’t want to talk about boxing since we are in the middle of the pandemic and this is not the right time for it.
"His main focus right now is to help here and there, providing relief, shelter, money and food, among other necessities."
Sean Gibbons, president of Manny Pacquiao Promotions, told Agence France-Presse in an email a fight between the eight-division world champion and McGregor would be a "tremendous global event."
Pacquiao, 41, has not fought since claiming the WBA welterweight crown with a stunning victory over Keith Thurman in Las Vegas in July last year.
A bout against McGregor, who fought welterweight king Floyd Mayweather in a money-spinning 2017 fight, would guarantee Pacquiao another lucrative payday.
Buzz surrounding a Pacquiao-McGregor face-off has been brewing for months now, and McGregor added fuel to that Friday with a tweet.
Last month, McGregor also posted a cryptic tweet, hinting that such a fight was underway.
"Regarding the news coming from McGregor himself, we don’t deny it," Pacquiao's statement read.
"In fact, our lawyers are finalizing all the confidential details, but both fighters are getting ready for this one epic last boxing fight.
"According to Paradigm Sports Management head Audie Attar, the fight may happen in the Middle East next year."
Pacquiao has successfully combined a political career in the Philippines, where he is an elected senator, while continuing to box at the highest level.
Gibbons said that the two camps were a "long way" from agreeing a fight, but confirmed "it is (definitely) one of the fights being considered for the Senator's return in 2020."
"The idea has been brought up on a few occasions for Senator Pacquiao and Conor McGregor to fight," Gibbons said, adding that McGregor had shown in his fight with Mayweather he was capable of challenging "the best boxers in the world."
Earlier Friday, McGregor, who has a long history of making outlandish claims on social media, had said on Twitter he was "boxing Manny Pacquiao next in the Middle East."
"It will be a true honour to have faced two of the greatest boxers of the modern era," he added.
In a report on ESPN, meanwhile, McGregor's manager Audie Attar said serious talks about a Pacquiao fight were under way, with a possible December or January date in the Middle East under consideration. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse