LAS VEGAS — Former welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao will continue his historic rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez when the two meet for the fourth time on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, an industry source confirmed to SI.com.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the deal had been completed.
Pacquiao initially wanted to face Miguel Cotto, who he knocked out in a thrilling fight in 2009. However, Cotto declined Top Rank’s offer, choosing instead to face 154-pound titleholder Austin Trout. Over the last week Pacquiao had been considering two possible opponents: Marquez and Timothy Bradley, who beat Pacquiao in a controversial decision last June. Ultimately, the decision came down to money: Pacquiao-Bradley generated an estimated 920,000 while Pacquiao-Marquez III generated 1.25 million.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum confirmed that Pacquiao would return to the ring on Dec. 8 but declined to specify the opponent.
“We reached an agreement,” Arum said. “It’s being drawn up now. As far as who he will be fighting that will be announced on Tuesday. But everything is done, finished.”
Arum hinted that Bradley — who is also under contract with Top Rank — will return to the ring on Nov. 10.
Arum refuted speculation that Pacquiao was considering taking the rest of the year off.
“Not even a remote [possibility],” Arum said.
Marquez is expected to be in Las Vegas this weekend to work as an analyst for the international broadcast off Saturday night’s middleweight title fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez.
– Chris Mannix