If Manny Pacquiao ever wants to win a world title in a record eighth weight class, Top Rank boss Bob Arum knows just the opponent: Yuri Foreman.
It’s a scenario that’s been spinning in Arum’s head since Foreman won the WBA junior middleweight championship last week on the same night Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto to capture the WBO welterweight crown for a world title in a record seven weight divisions.
Pacquiao is eyeing a showdown with Floyd Mayweather sometime next year to decide not only the best welterweight in the sport, but the best boxer on the planet. It could be the richest fight in boxing history. But down the line, Arum sees the possibility of Pacquiao moving up another weight class to create more boxing history by seeking a title in the 154-pound division. It would be an easy fight for Arum to put together considering he promotes both Pacquiao and Foreman.
“We’ll have a couple of good title defenses and hopefully there will be a demand at the end of next year for Manny Pacquiao to reach for an eighth title,” Arum said this week. “And Pacquiao against Yuri could well be a major match.”
Don’t laugh. Who thought Pacquiao, who started boxing at 106 would ever win a title in the 147-pound welterweight division? And who thought someone studying to become a rabbi would become the first observant Jew to win a world championship in nearly 70 years?
“I hope it takes less than two years,” Foreman said of possible fight with Pacquiao. “I have huge respect for Manny Pacquiao. There are two fighters that have my attention. One is Manny Pacquiao and the other is an MMA Russian guy, Fedor Emelianenko. Both are very spiritual people. When they fight they have such an aura around them. You can see that nothing can hurt them. That’s what I see when I saw Pacquiao against (Miguel) Cotto. Fedor is my idol and you can see he’s protected. When you have a fight with two fighters who are (spiritually) protected, it would be a very, very good fight.”
Just the mention of a potential bout with Pacquiao is an indication of how far Foreman, 29, has come. His story has been well documented: arriving in the States from Israel at age 19 with no money and no family; looking to train at Gleason’s Gym to become a world champion. With support from Gleason’s “Give A Kid A Dream,” program, Foreman was provided with free equipment and trainers, eventually developing into the 132nd world champion to train at the gym since 1937.
“We have people come from all over the world,” said Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym. “But most people have some support. Either they have family in the city or they come over with someone or they have a job ahead of time. There are very few people that come over leaving their family, leaving the comfort of their home on just a dream. But Yuri had the gumption to come half way around the world to come to Gleason’s gym to follow his dream.”
Foreman has another dream, which is to become a rabbi, a designation that will happen when he officially completes his studies in about two years. By then Arum hopes Foreman will have earned enough money, including a huge payday against Pacquiao, so being a rabbi can be his full-time job.
“It might seem like a joke now, but it’s going to capture people’s imagination,” Arum said of a potential Pacquiao-Foreman fight, “and Yuri win or lose can ride off to Israel with a lot of money. I think Yuri is capable of giving Manny a good fight. Yuri will take punishment fighting Manny like everybody does. But Yuri is a tough kid and he will have a big bank account.”