Billionaire throws out challenge as Pacquiao ramps up talk of rematch
Jack Ma is calling out Floyd Mayweather. And just in case China's wealthiest citizen has any second thoughts, good pal Manny Pacquiao has his back.
In a video posted on Instagram last weekend, eight-division world champion Pacquiao is shown sparring with Ma, billionaire co-founder of Alibaba, at the tycoon's home.
After trading a few punches, they turn to the camera and Pacquiao says: "Floyd Mayweather, if you want a real fight, fight me. If you want an exhibition, my guy, my friend, Jack Ma will take care of you."
Ma then chimes in with: "Yeah, I'm ready. Any time, any place."
The video is an example of real life mimicking reel life.
In 2017, Ma, an accomplished martial artist, starred in Gong Shou Dao, a short kung fu film produced by Beijing-born action star and wushu champion Jet Li. At the end of the film, Ma's character is challenged by Pacquiao.
In 2015, Pacquiao and Mayweather squared off in the richest fight in history, with Mayweather winning the 12-rounder by unanimous decision.
The bout generated a live gate of $75 million at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and nearly $1 billion in worldwide pay-per-view revenues, with Mayweather pocketing around $250 million and Pacquiao's cut estimated at $180 million.
Mayweather, 42, retired with a 50-0 record after stopping mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in a crossover match in August 2017, but rumors of a rematch with Pacquiao have continued to swirl－even as the man known as 'Money' was in negotiations for an exhibition bout in China.
Jay Lau, director of Hong Kong's DEF Promotions, told Sun Sport he met with Mayweather twice this summer to finalize a deal for an exhibition bout against a Chinese fighter early next year, but the American "was more interested in pursuing a rematch with Pacquiao", who currently holds the WBA welterweight title.
"Mayweather came two times to Hong Kong to talk about an exhibition fight. He spoke with my son Jayson and we had communications, but now he is focusing on the Pacquiao rematch," Lau said earlier this month.
"We were talking about an exhibition in China, a big event but not an official professional boxing match. Something like when Mayweather fought (Japanese kickboxer) Tenshin Nasukawa in Tokyo last New Year's Eve.
"We spoke a bit about doing a special fight in China, but halfway through he started talking about the Pacquiao rematch, so we stopped.
"I'll let him do his thing with Manny. The rematch is the biggest thing that can happen, so why bother with the exhibition first?
"I hope it happens… it could be a big possibility that fight is the grand opening for Japan's casinos. The only thing I will say is that Floyd is expensive, so we have to work really hard to get him back over to Asia. The offer is not easy."
In July, Mayweather was recruited by the Chinese Boxing Federation to serve as a special adviser to the national team.
In announcing the deal, the featherweight bronze medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics pledged "to go all out" to use his influence and resources to boost China's profile in the ring ahead of next summer's Tokyo Games.
During a 2017 visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengdu (where he purchased naming rights to a baby panda), Mayweather posted online photos of himself and members of his entourage on the Great Wall.
"I'm here on 'The Great Wall of China', considered to be one of the greatest wonders of the world!" the champ wrote to his 22 million followers on Instagram.
"China has always been on my list of places to see throughout my travels in life. Coming here with 23 people has been a great experience and it doesn't hurt to get paid $3 million to simply vacation in luxury for a few days.
"With money this long, everything is different. I move different, I dress different and I live different－because my money is extremely different!"
Meanwhile, Pacquiao raised his record to 62-7-2 in July, when he scored a lopsided decision over previously unbeaten Keith Thurman for the WBA crown.
The 40-year-old Filipino icon has repeatedly stated he wants his next fight to be against Mayweather.