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BOXING RETURN Conor McGregor believed to be lining up a fight with Manny Pacquiao

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 Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

Talks are stepping up for a potential showdown between Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao in a boxing ring later this year.

McGregor returns to the UFC cage next weekend when he takes on Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi and it looks like the Dubliner is planning for a busy 2021, as talks are being stepped up over a mega-money boxing match against Pacquiao edge towards a conclusion.

"I know the talks are intensifying for this year," said McGregor, speaking from his UFC 257 training camp in Dubai.

"So I am excited about a Manny Pacquiao bout, and it's looking like it will take place this year. What time this year, I'm not sure. We're going to have to have some good discussions and see where it goes, what's there, what do we want. I am open to it all. I am ready for it all."

McGregor could also face a third battle with long-time rival Nate Diaz with UFC chief Dana White set to hold talks with the Dubliner after his bout with Poirier.

"I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here, and believe me when I tell you, the real Conor is here," says White.

"He is so rich and people ask why he is still doing this, but he wants to put on a show against Poirier and then we can work out what can come next for him."

McGregor and Pacquiao are both represented by the same management company, and if the Irishman overcomes Poirier; Sutcliffe expects the 'Notorious' to face the 42-year-old in the coming months.

"I said 85-90 per cent chance, maybe April, March. March, April or May," Sutcliffe told ESPN I'd like him to be in a boxing camp for at least two months, eight weeks. I mean, he's fit now, he's going to train straight after the fight. He's gonna take probably a week off.

'I told him take a week off. Don't worry, if he wants to take a week off, he can, then go straight back on the horse. We don't want him out thinking too much, but he has to enjoy the win in his UFC fight, he has to enjoy the win, enjoy the contest."

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