Saturday’s RIZIN 40 was quite the spectacle, with a host of electrifying finishes leading up to the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN cross-over card at the Saitama Super Arena on New Year’s Eve.
Perhaps the biggest shock, however, was the sight of boxing great Manny Pacquiao walking out to the ring — announcing that he would fight for RIZIN next year.
“Pacman” retired for what is expected to be the final time last year, but has taken part in several exhibition bouts since. It appears Pacquiao will now follow in Floyd Mayweather’s footsteps in taking an exhibition boxing match in RIZIN — against a Japanese fighter to be named later.
No date was announced for Pacquiao’s appearance, though he did take to the mic to promote the bout, with RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara on hand.
“I’m excited to fight a Japanese fighter,” stated Pacquiao, suggesting that he will leave the choice of opponent up to RIZIN.
Previously, Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao’s rival in the highest-grossing Pay-Per-View event of all time, took to the RIZIN ring against Tenshin Nasukawa and Mikuru Asakura.
The news was one of several announcements made during the RIZIN 40 broadcast. Also lined up for 2023 are match-ups between Ren Hiramoto and former featherweight champ Yutaka Saito, and Mikuru Asakura vs. Juntaro Ushiku. Both pairs were made official with the respective fighters in the ring posing and facing off.
No dates have been announced, but the MMA match-ups at least are expected sometime in Spring of 2023.