Conor McGregor urged to snub Manny Pacquaio boxing match for Khabib rematch by Dana White | UFC | Sport
Conor McGregor should avoid agreeing to fight Manny Pacquiao in another mega-money boxing match to concentrate on becoming the UFC’s top dog once more, insists Dana White.
The Irishman is currently preparing for his first fight in 12 months at UFC 257 on Sunday January 24 at around 5am UK time [9pm PT/midnight ET Saturday January 23] when he faces Dustin Poirier in a rematch of their UFC 178 bout seven years ago.
Former two-weight world champion McGregor contests the lightweight clash at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena on Yas Island as he looks to improve his record to 23-4-0 with a second defeat of the American.
But after that, the Notorious could once more swap the octagon for the squared circle to take on boxing legend Pacquiao, the only eight-division world champion in the sport’s history.
The oldest welterweight champion ever, Pacquaio, now 42, is coming towards the end of his career and has commitments outside of boxing as the Senator of the Philippines, now in his fifth year of a six-year term.
But he could make time for a lucrative crossover showdown similar to the one McGregor put on against Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas in 2017 with a high-profile showdown having been mooted for over a year.
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But UFC president White would prefer to see McGregor concentrate on MMA in lure of a potential rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov, although the unbeaten lightweight king, who choked out McGregor in their explosive October 2018 battle, insists he has retired after stretching his record to 29-0 by beating Justin Gaethje.
White said to ESPN of McGregor: “The way that this kid is right now, mentally, physically, emotionally: this kid is on and ready to fight.
“I would love to see him focus on what he could do in the UFC. Whether it is taking another shot at the title against Khabib or fight for the title against somebody else if Khabib retires and then defend that title.
“A boxing match with any of these guys, that sort of stuff is always going to be there. You are the absolute best in the world right now at MMA.
“The timing is right now. [You are] not getting any younger. I would love to see him go for it here [in UFC] in the next year.
“If he wants to fight one of these boxing guys, do that next year because those fights are always going to be there.”
Discussing McGregor’s fight with Mayweather, which reportedly earned the former around £96m, White added: “That was the perfect storm and all came together perfectly with Floyd and it was fun. It was a fun thing to do. But it is a one-and-done thing for me.
“I told you guys a few weeks ago at the fight that there are a lot of fights which could be made and which could make money.
“You have got people running around talking stuff all the time. It is not really what I do. Poirier vs McGregor? That is what I do.”
Dagestani great Khabib has repeatedly declared his intention to retire despite there being huge demand for him to face off against rival McGregor once more but White is eager to convince him to fight again.
He added: “I’m obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again. Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje [in October]. Look at what he’s done to every opponent he has faced.
“I think he should fight again and I’m going to press him as hard as I can for one more.”
But Khabib said back in December: “My [lightweight] belt will [eventually] be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor. Dana and I are in touch and did not discuss the moment with the vacant belt.
“This is because they want me to continue. This is clear – I have been in the league for nine years and have not lost. I have a story, a big fanbase.
“I don’t blame them and their desire is understandable. They persuade, I will not hide, but this is not surprising. They offer conditions and fighters, but it’s hard to surprise fighters.
“I finished half of the top 10 ahead of schedule. And so yes, I repeat: there are conditions and offers. In a couple of weeks, Dana and I will discuss all the points.”