THE two have been inextricably linked for years and now Manny Pacquiao has followed in Floyd Mayweather’s footsteps by signing a deal with Japanese mixed martial arts organisation Rizin.
Rizin, you might recall, were the promoters behind Mayweather’s bizarre New Year’s Eve exhibition ‘fight’ against Tenshin Nasukawa last year. That night Mayweather easily defeated his kickboxer opponent inside a round and apparently landed a payday of somewhere in the region of $8 million. It made sense to Mayweather, then, if no one else.
Pacquiao, still active, was critical of the authenticity of that ‘fight’, as were many, and implored Mayweather to come out of retirement – properly – and take a real fight. Now, however, it would appear the Filipino legend has had second thoughts about the virtues of exhibition bouts and signed a similar deal to the one Mayweather secured last year.
Rizin’s chief executive officer, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, today announced the Pacquiao coup by posting photographs on Twitter of the eight-division world champion, now 40, signing a contract.
“I’m here in the Philippines,” wrote Sakakibara. “RIZIN.15 will have this man involved in a way. We will be ready to announce as I get back to Japan!”
The extent of Pacquiao’s involvement at RIZIN 15 is not yet known. All we know is the event is scheduled for April 21 and that Pacquiao, a man once critical of combat sports merging, seems to have perhaps come around to the idea.
Super-middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jnr has been criticised over the years, mostly by opponents, for not establishing his own voice and for being easily led.
These days, however, he seems to have toned down the influence of his world champion father – to some degree – and is being similarly selective with the other voices in the gym and his corner.
Recently, Eubank Jnr was reported to be mulling over the idea of hooking up with Virgil Hunter in Oakland, California, after spending time training with the veteran coach of Andre Ward and Amir Khan. Whether that amounts to anything remains to be seen, but Eubank Jnr expressed a desire to learn new tricks and see what may come of the relationship.
Meanwhile, the man who last cornered Eubank Jnr, Nate Vasquez, has heard all about Khan’s trip to see Virgil Hunter but has heard nothing from Eubank Jnr since they combined to bring about the downfall of James DeGale in February. He feels Eubank Jnr will benefit from sticking to one trainer in the future but says he will hold no grudge against him if the Brighton man looks elsewhere.
“I don’t know if jumping trainers will help him,” Vasquez told Sky Sports. “You can’t learn if you’re jumping trainers from time to time. If you go from trainer to trainer to trainer, it’s not good. I got the best win of his career with him. I’m not mad at him if he goes to another trainer.
“I don’t think Chris Jnr will do a training camp in California without any of his people there, and I don’t think Virgil Hunter will leave California. Chris wants to be a boxer, but he needs a lot of work on his footwork. His style isn’t meant to be a boxer like Roy Jones Jnr or Andre Ward. Some styles can’t change and, if he changed, it wouldn’t suit him.
“My main purpose was to work on his defence, his jab and to get him to throw combos. You don’t want to change anybody too much. Chris is a pressure fighter and if you change him into a boxer it won’t go well for him.”
In a lot of cases, change is a good thing. Too much of it, though, or not enough stability, can quickly have a detrimental effect.
Chris Eubank Jnr is surrounded by enough wise old heads to know the difference.