Pacquiao to face former sparring partner in Saudi exhibition

·2 min read

ALTHOUGH already retired, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao will be in what should be his closest to a real pro boxing fight in over a year as he takes on former sparring partner Jaber Zayani next year in an exhibition in Saudi Arabia.

The 43-year-old Pacquiao will be fighting Zayani in a scheduled eight-rounder using eight-ounce gloves set tentatively in February at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.

“I personally negotiated with the senator together with my team and after months of talks, we finally agreed to a face off next year. He already signed the contract so it is a go,” Zayani said in a statement.

The 31-year-old Zayani and Pacquiao agreed on doing the exhibition last week.

Zayani worked as Pacquiao’s sparring partner for his fight with Keith Thurman in 2019.

Pacquiao hung his gloves in 2021 after losing to Yordenis Ugas last year. Pacquiao decided on retiring to focus on his political career.

“Call it an exhibition or something but when the senator signed the deal, I told him to prepare well because I’m going to give him a real fight. He then told me, ‘you better be prepared,’” said Zayani.

Zayani, a native of Saint-Martin-d’Hères, Isère, France, is unbeaten in 18 pro fights. He has been fighting in the Philippines and Thailand in the last four years, wherein he owns wins over Ciso Morales and Eduardo Mancito. He is 18-0 with 11 knockouts.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, is an eight-division world champion that has shared the ring against some of the best in his generation, the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar dela Hoya, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao finished his pro boxing career with a record of 68-8-2 along 39 wins by way of knockout.

Before his exhibition with Zayani, Pacquiao is scheduled to face South Korean Youtube star DK Yoo on Dec. 10 in Seoul, South Korea in a charity boxing event.