Bob Arum was dismayed by the latest news involving one of the greatest fighters he has ever promoted.

The 91-year-old founder of Las Vegas-based Top Rank expressed his disappointment with the increasingly likely possibility that eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao could be returning to the ring this year against embattled British welterweight Conor Benn.

Benn tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clomifene last year, in two separate tests, in a scandal that has dominated the British boxing news cycle for the past seven months.

Benn, who is without a license to fight in his native country, is expected to return to the ring on June 3 in Abu Dhabi. Pacquiao has long been mentioned as a possible candidate to fight Benn, in addition to “semi-retired” countryman Kell Brook and Ben’s nemesis Chris Eubank Jr.

Sean Gibbons, an advisor to Pacquiao, has insisted that his star charge is ready to fight Benn and that they are simply waiting for a determination from Benn’s team, led by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom.

Pacquiao retired after his points loss to Yordenis Ugas in August 2021 in order to focus on his political career in his native Philippines, where he is a senator. But after coming up short in the presidential elections, Pacquiao entered the ring again last December, albeit in an exhibition, against South Korea mixed martial artist DK Yoo.

Arum, who promoted Pacquiao’s biggest fights, called Pacquiao’s apparent determination to continue his ring career “sad.” 

“That’s sort of sad, because he is [44 years old],” Arum told Little Giant Boxing. “But I know he always stays in good shape. And I wish him nothing but the best, but you know, it’s just sad at the age of [44] that he feels it necessary to pursue a boxing career.”

Sean Nam is the author of the forthcoming book Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.