x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Manny Pacquiao still keen to fight in Abu Dhabi

Filipino boxing champion is still keen to take to the ring in the capital.

Manny Pacquiao holds the championship belt at the finish of his WBO welterweight boxing title fight against Miguel Cotto.
Manny Pacquiao holds the championship belt at the finish of his WBO welterweight boxing title fight against Miguel Cotto.

ABU DHABI // World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao still wants to fight in front of an Abu Dhabi crowd, his adviser said yesterday.

Talks took place to stage the Filipino's WBC super welterweight bout against Antonio Margarito in Abu Dhabi last November.

The fight went instead to the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas, with Pacquiao emerging victorious.

His Canadian adviser, Michael Koncz, said yesterday: "I tried to negotiate to have Manny's last fight in Abu Dhabi and I haven't given up on it. I hope to come back in the near future to continue negotiating for it."

Pacquiao has been nominated for his first Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award, which will be announced tonight in Abu Dhabi, but he will be unable to attend the event.

Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank Promotions, which represents Pacquiao, and Mr Koncz had met an Abu Dhabi official last July to discuss the possibility of Pacquiao fighting in the capital.

"I am aware that in the United Arab Emirates, there are 425,000 Filipinos employed, but it looks like his next fight is in Singapore, because I was there last week negotiating with people there,' Mr Koncz said.

After Pacquiao fights Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on May 7, the deal for him to fight in Singapore is "90 per cent done", although no date has been agreed, Mr Koncz said. The date of that match could determine when the boxer could fight in the UAE.

"If it's a difficult fight then Manny would probably fight in November but if it's a short fight and Manny wins by an early knockout it could be much sooner," Mr Koncz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Manila last week.

Considered the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Pacquiao was named fighter of the decade for the 2000s by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He is a world champion in eight weight divisions.

Mr Koncz said Pacquiao had asked him to relay a message to the Laureus Awards organisers that "he regrets that he can't make it and that he is looking forward to going there".

"He is very honoured and feels privileged to be a nominee in this prestigious award," he said. "He would just like to thank the group for nominating him."

Pacquiao, who is in Manila, cannot make the awards because he is due to fly to the US on Wednesday for an itinerary that includes a private meeting with the US president, Barack Obama.

A press tour is due to begin on Thursday in Los Angeles that wraps up in Washington DC on February 15.

"There will also be a press conference in Washington DC hosted by Senator Harry Reid," Mr Koncz said. "Manny will be escorted to the Senate floor and he will be introduced to the whole American Senate."

Pacquiao is also a congressman of Sarangani Province in southern Philippines.

rruiz@thenational.ae