x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai bout 'is just a dream' for Mayweather-Pacquiao fight

Shafiypour and Al Dar highlight organisation and funding barriers as hindrance to UAE venues.

The chances of Floyd Mayweather Jr, pictured, fighter Manny Pacquiao in the UAE have been downplayed by Emnirates-based boxing officials.
The chances of Floyd Mayweather Jr, pictured, fighter Manny Pacquiao in the UAE have been downplayed by Emnirates-based boxing officials.

DUBAI // Emirates-based boxing officials yesterday dismissed rumours Manny Pacquiao could fight Floyd Mayweather in the UAE.

Speculation regarding a potential megafight in the Emirates was heightened this week when Freddie Roach, the Filipino's American coach, said he preferred Dubai or Dallas over the traditional host city of Las Vegas.

Dubai has hosted boxing events before, but nothing even close to the scale of what would be required to bring Pacquiao, an eight-division champion, and Mayweather, arguably the world's finest pound-for-pound pugilist, to the city.

Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has ambition, but lacks experience, according to Amir Shafiypour, the chief executive of The Champion Club in Dubai and manager of the UAE's first professional boxer, Eisa Al Dah. In July 2010, Pacquiao's adviser said he held talks with representatives of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family over the possibility of staging the Filipino's fight with Antonio Margarito in the capital. They ending up fighting in Texas.

"There are rumours, yes, but this usually happens when promoters - or people who think they are promoters - come up with a concept," Shafiypour said.

"Making a concept is easy: sit down, type, make some pictures and say I'm going to do that. Get some public relations, get it in the news with a big name and everyone will love it. But who is going to fund it? Who is going to organise it? They don't consider this. It is a dream.

"To bring someone like Pacquiao here, you need to have at least a budget of US$50 million (Dh183.655m) in your bank account just to get the contract signed. If you cannot do that then you will struggle for the credibility and it won't happen."

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•  Manny Pacquiao page
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Al Dah met Roach in 2010 and has at times used the coach's Wild Card Gym to train alongside Amir Khan, the former unified WBA and IBF light welterweight champion. He has also met with Pacquiao on several occasions and when Mayweather visited Dubai last year, the Emirati spent time with him at the Burj Al Arab.

"Everyone is talking about this fight, but the people here doing the talking do not understand promoting," Al Dah said. "You are talking about one of the biggest fights in history; a purse where each fighter gets a guaranteed $50m. It's huge; it is the one everybody is waiting for. But nobody can bring this kind of event here except the government of Dubai or Abu Dhabi."

"I am not saying I have a very close relationship with Floyd, but he has visited a couple of times and came to my office and we spent time together. He loves the city and said he wants to come back, but it is hard because of the financial and organisational aspects."

Another potential barrier to the UAE's hopes of hosting the fight is the time difference between the Middle East and the lucrative American pay-per-view audience.

Shafiypour, however, says that is a surmountable hurdle.

"Time difference is not a problem; funding is the issue," the Iranian said. "There is a lot of pay per view on this side of the world."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae