Kota Ibushi Approached For Fight With Manny Pacquiao

Could Kota Ibushi enter the boxing ring to fight Manny Pacquiao?

Kota Ibushi has reportedly been offered a match with legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao, according to Tokyo Sports.

Talks over a fight are said to be in the very early stages and the ruleset of any possible match has not been determined, although any clash would likely be an exhibition boxing fight. The fight would take place in RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION, the spiritual successor to PRIDE and Dream Stage Entertainment. 

RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara invited Ibushi to the company at a recent press conference, saying: "Please come! That's what I'm saying. Kota Ibushi is the only fighter in the current Japanese wrestling world that I am interested in. So, please come and do it (at RIZIN)."

RIZIN are also open to holding a pro wrestling match involving Ibushi, with Sakakibara adding: "Unlike in the past, there is now a clear distinction between pro wrestling and martial arts. Probably not many of our fans watch pro wrestling. But with Ibushi, even if he competes alongside a serious martial arts match, he should be able to make martial arts fans think, 'Wow, pro wrestling is amazing!' I think he can be a bridge between pro wrestling and martial arts."

Ibushi told Dark Puroresu Flowsion about a possible Pacquiao fight: "I want to interact with Manny as a fighter. That's what everyone thinks, and only a limited number of people can receive this offer. I think it's a great honour and a miracle."

Ibushi was previously under contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling but he departed the promotion after his contract expired at midnight JST on February 1. He is a former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. 

Ibushi seemingly plans to remain a freelancer following his NJPW exit although he is open to speaking with AEW after the 40-year-old sets up his own pro wrestling school. Tony Khan also admitted he would consider working with The Golden Star. 

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Aidan Gibbons

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Editor-in-Chief of Cultaholic.com Twitter: @theaidangibbons