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Pacquiao signs contract to fight Horn

Manny Pacquiao will fight Jeff Horn in Australia this July.

MANILA, Philippines – It’s official: Manny Pacquiao will fight Australian prospect Jeff Horn this July.

This after Pacquiao’s adviser Mike Koncz on Thursday confirmed that the Filipino icon has signed the contract to defend his WBO welterweight title against Horn in Brisbane, Australia on July 1 (July 2 Manila time).

“Yes [Manny signed the contract] this morning,” Koncz told Philstar.com in a text message on Thursday afternoon.

Koncz thus confirmed Top Rank Inc. chief’s Bob Arum’s earlier statement to The Los Angeles Times saying Pacquiao has signed on the dotted line.

Speaking to the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire, Arum said that while Pacquiao already had affixed his signature on the fight contract, there are still minor things that have yet to be finalized.

“We’re slowly finishing up the deal to fight … people have agreed on essential points,” said the veteran promoter.

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“Paperwork takes time, particularly when it’s not the usual thing of getting it done in the United States. We’re dealing with an Australian promoter, the state government. … Here, in this case, you’ve got to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” Arum added.

This ends Pacquiao’s prolonged search for an opponent for his ring return since routing Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas last November. Koncz previously spearheaded talks for a fight between Pacquiao and Amir Khan somewhere in the Middle East, but financial reasons stood in the way.

At the same time, Arum had been working with Horn’s representatives to get Pacquiao to fight the 29-year-old boxer in Brisbane, particularly at the 52,000-seat Suncorp Stadium. Pacquiao was disinterested at first, telling Fox Sports Australia that he doesn’t know Horn (16-0-1, with 11 KOs), who interestingly is also a licensed school teacher.

Pacquiao had preferred to face Khan, his former stablemate and sparring partner under Freddie Roach, partly after the British fighter topped a Twitter poll put up by the fighting senator.

It turns out, Pacquiao will have to deal with Horn first.

Koncz, for his part, is not giving up on the Khan fight, which he said could be next for Pacquiao after Horn.

“I am still working on putting a deal together [for Manny] to fight Amir Khan in October or November either in the Middle East or the Philippines,” Koncz added.

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