Exclusive Interview: Pacquiao v Benn

Exclusive updates on the negotiations between Pacquiao and Conor Benn.

Manny Pacquiao’s advisor Sean Gibbons exclusively spoke to NordicBet and provided an update on negotiations between Pacquiao and Conor Benn.

The boxing promoter revealed that talks have started for a summer showdown with Saudi Arabia being interested in staging the fight, and is hoping that it will be for the WBC Diamond belt at welterweight.

Pacquiao v Benn talks underway

I: What’s the update on Pacquiao v Benn?

SG: It was bizarre. There was a year or so ago when we were interested in the Conor Benn fight but then it died down. His Excellency loves fighters and loves Manny Pacquiao so invited him to the show on the weekend and Conor Benn was there doing some commentating for DAZN.

They are both there at the weigh-in and you had Derek Chisora joking with them saying ‘why don’t you guys’ fight’ and then Ariel Helwani  was there and said ‘are we going to get a fight, how close is it and let’s have a face off’. We weren’t even negotiating but we are now and it went from zero to 100 and now we are negotiating.

We were there just as guests but all of sudden you saw this interest and buzz around the fight. His Excellency Turki Alalshikh took a liking from what had happened, and it hasn’t been announced but you can tell there is interest in the fight instantly but it comes down to see if His Excellency, who loves the fight, can make it happen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That’s the place to make it happen or Eddie Hearn mentioned Wembley and that would do huge numbers.

I: What stage are you at with negotiations?

SG: There has been some preliminary talks that could go very quickly if the parties that promote the shows in Saudi say that’s the fight we want, let’s get it done. There is no issues with the fighters, they are ready and want to fight. It can get done now. When you have Eddie Hearn, Conor Benn and Manny Pacquiao on board and want the fight, with rivals to idols being the name of the fight like Eddie and Conor said.

Conor Benn has looked slightly average in his last couple of fights while Manny is a generational guy where there won’t be another one like him. He’s a George Foreman, a Bernard Hopkins, and set the record at 40 years old to beat Keith Thurman to win the welterweight world title. Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather couldn’t do it. Manny wasn’t in decline, he got stuck with Yordenis Ugas after Errol Spence Jr got injured. He was by no means shot at that time and you could arguably say he won the fight. Ugas was huge and rehydrated to a light heavyweight. Manny’s shots would have knocked out most welterweights, it was a horrible, horrible fight.

We need to see how his punch resistance is but one thing you never lose is your power, like Mike Tyson at 57. If he hits, then that game is over for Jake Paul. If Manny Pacquiao cracks Conor Benn on the chin, then it’s night night for him. It’s Manny Pacquiao and he has taken care of himself over the last 10 years and a guest appearance in Saudi may now turn into a fight.

Conor Benn is number one target for Manny Pacquiao

I: Is Conor Benn the number one target?

SG: Any fight with the name Conor is of interest. The other Conor (McGregor) is all over the place, so Conor Benn has moved into forefront. I don’t see anyone else like a Mario Barrios, but in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they look at what the buyer would like. Manny vs Terance Crawford is not the fight. Manny would fight Crawford, but nobody is buying that at this point. Conor Benn has looked very vulnerable in his last couple of fights and that’s what brings the intrigue to it and that’s the target. Next step is His Excellency wanting to make the fight and we will move to the next step.

I: When could the fight happen?

SG: In a perfect world, June or September but we won’t be able to choose the date. Let me rephrase, June would be the best time as both guys are ready, Manny has enough time to sharpen up and Conor is always training so that would be the date. Let’s do it at welterweight for the WBC Diamond title, a belt Manny won 14 years ago when Conor was like 13 years old or younger.

Ship has sailed for Amir Khan fight

I: What are the chances of Pacquiao vs Khan?

SG: There was interest in the past and there were opportunities but unfortunately when there was chance to do it, Manny retired to run for president. At this point, that ship has sailed.

Again, if someone is paying absolutely, Manny would be happy to fight Amir Khan. No problem at all if it is an exhibition or whatever. To answer your question, yes anything in this world that you have seen recently with the fights out there and the things that are coming up, they can all take place. If someone said tomorrow that they want to see Manny Pacquiao take on Amir Khan in Dubai, Saudi Arabia or England then of course Manny is up for all of this.

This is probably his last year, and the guy loves to fight. All of the years he has given to the sport, he deserves to get something back, he never turned down a fight or a challenge and did everything that was asked of him. This is a final swansong for Manny.

Charity work

I: What’s next for Pacquiao after this year in boxing?

SG: This is a final swansong that we are hoping to make some dollars out of boxing that Manny has given so much to. When gets money, he is able to help so many people that’s the difference between him and other fighters. Manny isn’t just making it for himself, he has built 800 homes, people in his province and people don’t know what he gives away to people every night. He’s taking care of medical bills, things he doesn’t talk about and when he makes, everyone makes, and he is able to help so many people.

I would say a guy in an ice cream truck from the Philippines who broke down and he was begging Manny that he needed the truck fixed and that he had nothing. Manny said don’t worry I will take care of this, and he not only helped him with his job but ended up buying him a new house, so he wasn’t in poverty. There’s so many similar stories and I see when they’re at his house there are people come in with a list or bills for medical stuff to help kids and he helps with all of the medical needs.

In the Philippines, if you don’t have money, you’re not getting in a hospital you are dying. It’s not like England or the United States, where if you don’t have the money, the county or the government pick it up. If you have no money, you have no health. It’s a cruel world out here. 

Here, it’s like sorry and good luck. A poor kid out here who was 1 years of age, he had the colostomy bag with everything hanging out and he needed surgery, and the lady was showing the kid what he needed, and Manny came in and paid whatever the money was needed to pay the surgery. This is what the man does and that is his values and beliefs and would do that regardless because he never forgot where he came from. He came from poverty. He got into boxing to help his family, and the need to eat not for the love of the sport, it became a necessity.