Philippine Arena to host Manny’s last fight?

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Philippine Arena to host Mannyâs last fight?
Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao FB Page

MANILA, Philippines — The plan is for super WBA welterweight champion-in-recess Sen. Manny Pacquiao to fight twice this year and if socio-economic conditions allow, the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan could be the site of his farewell bout in September. It’s Pacquiao’s dream to make his last appearance in the ring on home soil and he hasn’t fought before his countrymen since outpointing Mexico’s Oscar Larios at the Araneta Coliseum in 2006. Pacquiao’s last 24 fights were held abroad, 20 in the US, two in Macau, one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Brisbane.

But whether the plan pushes through or not is dependent on the pandemic situation, the vaccination roll-out and the business environment. There is talk that Pacquiao will engage Mikey Garcia, a former world titlist in four weight divisions, in Dubai on May 15 but according to MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, “the Senator has no fight locked in yet.” It appears that despite Pacquiao’s inactivity since his last fight in July 2019, he remains the hottest ticket in the fight game and according to a source with an ear to the ground, “everybody wants a piece of Manny.”

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum is pushing WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford as an opponent in a unification showdown. WBC/IBF welterweight ruler Errol Spence is waiting in line. Undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. may come out of retirement to do a potential megabuck rematch. When Pacquiao ends his “recess,” the WBA will order a fight against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas. WBC interim lightweight champion Ryan Garcia’s spokesperson Guadalupe Valencia claimed that “Pacquiao’s representatives reached out … to gauge interest” for a fight. MMA star Conor McGregor was up for a duel until his KO loss to Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi last January. With rumors swirling of agents negotiating in Pacquiao’s behalf, Paradigm Sports’ Audie Attar recently issued a statement that “no one outside of Paradigm Sports is involved in any way with the management of Senator Pacquiao’s boxing career at this time.”

Gibbons said jokingly “it’s amazing that 52 guys out there are trying to do a fight for the Senator.” If a deal is sealed for May 15, Gibbons said, “I hope it’s true, more power and God bless.” At the moment, Gibbons said nothing is set in stone. Pacquiao initially said he was given a choice of four dates to consider for his next fight in the Middle East and April 10 was a possibility, two days before the start of Ramadan. Now, May 15 has surfaced as an option and it’s three days after the end of Ramadan. Assuming the May 15 outing materializes, Pacquiao hopes to fight once more in September, the month before the filing of candidacies for the 2022 presidential elections. As president of the political party PDP-Laban, Pacquiao will be involved in the coming campaign. It’s not certain if Pacquiao himself will run for president but in a recent OCTA Research “Tugon Ng Masa” survey, he was a strong third in a list of 12 “most preferred” presidential bets.

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