It’ll be the biggest boxing spectacle in K. L. since Muhammad Ali outpointed Joe Bugner to retain the world heavyweight title at the Merdeka Stadium in 1975.
Wendell Rupert Alinea
Pacquiao sets blockbuster undercard
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Manny Pacquiao has assembled a 12-fight, 108-round bill capped by his battle against WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse of Argentina at the 16,000-seat Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on July 15 with nine protagonists staking their unbeaten records and four world titles at stake.

It’ll be the biggest boxing spectacle in K. L. since Muhammad Ali outpointed Joe Bugner to retain the world heavyweight title at the Merdeka Stadium in 1975. The fights are set on Sunday morning (Malaysia time) so they can air live on Saturday evening in the US. Top Rank is in charge of the US telecast, most likely on the ESPN network or ESPN+ streaming. 

Fighters from 14 countries are seeing action in the event. Pacquiao’s MP Promotions executives Michael Koncz and Joe Ramos collaborated with Top Rank chief operating officer Brad Jacobs, Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez and Las Vegas-based international matchmaker Sean Gibbons to sign up boxers from the Philippines, Argentina, Mexico, China, Venezuela, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Thailand, India and Indonesia. The card features four 12-rounders, two 10-rounders, three 8-rounders, two 6-rounders and one 4-rounder.

One of Pacquiao’s three sparmates George Kambosos of Australia was given a slot and will face the Philippines’ J. R. Magboo in an 8-round lightweight contest. Kambosos’ record is 14-0, with 8 KOs while Magboo has a 17-1 slate, with 8 KOs. Kambosos is among nine unbeaten fighters in the card. The others are the Philippines’ Jhack Tepora, China’s Lu Bin and Yong Qiang Yang, Malaysia’s Muhamad Farkhan, Theena Thayalan and Ailman Abu Baker, Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales and Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem.

“Malaysia’s ready,” said Pacquiao. “I’m excited, the fans are excited. Let’s get on with the fights.” Tickets went on sale last June 6 with seven different prices – $125, $250, $350, $500, $1,000, $2,000 and $5,000. The new Malaysian government under recently-elected comeback prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad has eliminated the 6 percent Goods and Services Tax that the previous administration imposed so ticket prices are lower than what they would’ve been with the former policy. Pacquiao’s executives in the Malaysian promotions company MPKL said they expect a sell-out.

Aside from the main event, there will be three other world title fights. Tepora takes on Mexico’s Indio Ortega for the vacant WBA featherweight crown relinquished by Abner Mares who lost to Leo Santa Cruz in a bid for the super WBA 126-pound title. Bin faces defending WBA lightflyweight king Canizales in a duel of undefeated fighters. Bin, 23, is a 2016 Rio Olympian and if he dethrones Canizales, will set a record for winning a world title in only his second pro outing. Vasily Lomachenko and Saensak Muangsurin share the record of winning world crowns in their third pro bouts. South African Moruti Mthalane will clash with Waseem for the IBF flyweight title surrendered by Donnie Nietes who has moved up to the superflyweight division.

Pacquiao, Tepora, Harmonito de la Torre, Juan Miguel Elorde, Magboo, Jay-Ar Inson and Vincent Astrolabio are the Filipinos in the card. De la Torre, who boasts a 19-1 record, with 12 KOs, will tangle with the unbeaten Yang (10-0, 7 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight tiff. Elorde meets Thailand’s Ratchanon Sawang Soda in a 6-round superbantamweight tussle while Inson engages Australia’s Terry Tzouramanis in an 8-round welterweight contest. Astrolabio squares off with Japan’s Yuuki Kobayashi in an 8-round bantamweight scrap.

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