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Pacquiao returns, sets Japan fight

Manny Pacquiao will fight in Japan this year.

The eight-division legend announced on New Year’s Eve that he has signed up with Japanese mixed-martial arts promotional outfit Rizin.

Although he did not provide details, Pacquiao, 44, told the packed crowd at the Saitama Super Arena that he will lace up once again and fight an exhibition in 2023.

“A few months ago, I was here as a guest and today I have a very exciting announcement tonight,” Pacquiao said.

“I have agreed with Rizin to fight next year. The date will soon be announced and also my opponent that Rizin will choose. And I’m open and excited to fight a Japanese fighter. Thank you.”

Joining Pacquiao on top of the ring was Rizin head Noboyuki Sakakibara.

This will be Pacquiao’s second foray into the exhibition trend after beating Korean MMA star a few weeks ago in Seoul.

Pacquiao’s announcement came as a surprise but he had solid ties with Rizin after attending one of its shows last year.

The Filipino great remains retired from professional boxing, having fought his last sanctioned bout in August 2021 in Las Vegas where he got upset by Cuban Yordenis Ugas.

Although he had a total of 72 pro fights, Pacquiao only saw action on Japanese soil once and it happened in May 1998.

At that time, Pacquiao was still trying to make a name for himself and he knocked out Shin Terao in less than a round at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

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