MANILA, Philippines — Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in November, that much is certain. Who the opponent will be is still very much undecided.
The welterweight champion is awaiting formal proclamation as a newly elected congressman in the Philippines, while promoter Bob Arum and his closest advisers begin the daunting task of negotiating what could be the most lucrative fight in boxing history.
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's chief financial adviser, said Wednesday that no opponent has been selected, amid speculation it could be Floyd Mayweather Jr. Koncz said two dates – Nov. 6 and Nov. 13 – have been set aside for the fight at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys are on the road Nov. 7 and Nov. 14.
"There is no named opponent yet, but that is certainly when we will fight," Koncz said.
No discussions are taking place with any of the potential rivals of Pacquiao, who is headed for a landslide win in Monday's vote in his southern Sarangani province. Among the other names that have been bandied about as potential opponents are former champion Antonio Margarito and the winner of a June 5 bout between junior middleweight champ Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto.
"If there are negotiations happening, it's news to me," Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions said earlier this week. Schaefer is expected to negotiate on behalf of Mayweather.
Pacquiao said the decision to return to the ring was up to his mother, Dionisia.
"So many fans want me to fight Mayweather, so I asked my mother to allow me to fight one more time, and she said 'OK.' My mother agreed," Pacquiao told ABS-CBN television Wednesday.
Still, anything less than a clash between Pacquiao and Mayweather is sure to disappoint boxing fans. The two nearly came to terms earlier this year, even agreeing to split the payday 50-50, but the fight fell through when the Filipino champion refused drug-testing conditions set by the Mayweather camp.
"If Mayweather wants to fight Manny, then no problem, provided he doesn't try to bully us into terms and conditions," Koncz said.
Mayweather has insisted that all of his opponents, beginning with his recent victory over Shane Mosley, will be required to undergo Olympic-style blood testing. Koncz said Pacquiao will fight under the rules of the commission of the state where the fight is held, which usually requires only urine tests in the weeks leading up to the bout.
Pacquiao believes that giving blood too close to a fight makes him weak.
According to Koncz, the "television date and the venue are the two most important things" in setting up a fight, even before an opponent is identified, as was the case when Pacquiao fought Joshua Clottey at the Cowboys Stadium in March. Pacquiao won by an unanimous decision.
Koncz said the 31-year-old Pacquiao was resting following a night of monitoring results from the congressional race that pitted him against businessman Roy Chiongbian.
"Pacquiao is leading by a big margin and it looks like a landslide," said Michael Abas, regional director for the Commission on Elections.
"Pacman" was soundly defeated when he first ventured into politics in a run for the House of Representatives in 2007.
Campaigning last month, Pacquiao described his platform as "very simple, very basic" – giving small boats to fishermen and financial support to neighborhood stores so people can build livelihoods, plus offering free education and medicine and medical care to the poor.
"He wants change," his trainer, Freddie Roach, told The Associated Press this week. "It's genuine. People see that he wants to help his country, and that's why they're voting. That's why they support him."