Philippines, 26 Sep 2020
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China opens door for Manny


PhilBoxing.com




Although Sen. Manny Pacquiao hasn?t fought since losing the WBO welterweight crown to Jeff Horn in Brisbane last July, it doesn?t look like his boxing career is over. The clamor for Pacquiao to return to the ring even as he turns 39 on Dec. 17 is reverberating and China appears to be in the lead to host his next bout.

Pacquiao was recently in Beijing to deliver a nine-fight boxing promotion that he produced with Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons. The Chinese government had approached Pacquiao to assist in promoting the sport in the Mainland and he readily agreed. The promotion was staged before a by-invitation-only audience of 500 VIP guests at the Heyuan Royal Garden Hotel grounds. It had the trappings of a Las Vegas event with bright lights, dancing showgirls, upbeat music and exciting bell-to-bell action that was highlighted by Rio Olympian Lu Bin?s third round knockout over Thailand?s Wanchai Nianghansa for the vacant WBC Asia Boxing Council lightflyweight title.

Pacquiao and wife Jinkee flew in from Manila the night before the show. He went straight from the airport to attend a press conference and announced plans of fighting in China next year. The day after, Pacquiao participated in a two-hour forum organized by Belt and Road, a government-owned global infrastructure construction company, to discuss collaborative efforts in business, investments and sports. Belt and Road has committed to back at least four boxing shows a year with Pacquiao in the lead, supported by the Dancing Sports Industry of Beijing and the Professional Boxing Commission of China.

During his three-day stay in Beijing, Pacquiao received countless visitors in his hotel suite, some offering business deals, others just taking the opportunity to pose for a photo or ask for an autograph. It?s no secret that Pacquiao is revered in China. Last year, officials of the Chinese sports apparel and footwear brand Anta went to Las Vegas to finalize an endorsement contract with Pacquiao. And last August, Pacquiao visited the Anta operations center in Xiamen and went to Beijing to confer with brand officials. Pacquiao will re-launch Anta in the Philippine market next year as its new distributor.

An endless stream of autograph-seekers and picture-takers stalked Pacquiao in his ringside seat at the boxing event. Pacquiao didn?t mind it and accommodated his Chinese fans. ?I hope someday, I will bring my fight to China,? he said. ?This is the beginning of a partnership, the start of a relationship to promote professional boxing in China.?

Pacquiao was told that his fights average a free-to-TV audience of 300 million in the Mainland. China?s population is a staggering 1.4 billion and in Beijing, the population is 21.5 million. Pay-per-view hasn?t been attempted but the technology is ready for a country-wide hook-up. If each pay-per-view subscription sells for $10, with a conservative audience of 100 million, total revenues would amount of $1 Billion. The pay-per-view gross for Pacquiao?s fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. reached $440 Million. It makes economic sense for Pacquiao to arrange a pay-per-view deal in China for his next fight.

Pacquiao offered Horn a $3 Million purse to face him in a rematch at the Philippine Arena before the year ends but the Australian turned it down, opting for a lesser prize against Englishman Gary Corcoran at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center on Dec. 13. Horn was contracted to receive $1.7 Million in a Pacquiao rematch so the Senator?s offer was a substantial upgrade. His fight against Pacquiao drew a crowd of 51,025. The venue for Horn?s defense against Corcoran can only hold 4,000.

Pacquiao?s plan is to face Horn once more, regain the WBO crown then battle Mayweather in a rematch to end his career. Assuming Horn repulses Corcoran, he could be next for Pacquiao in a China fight. And if Pacquiao recaptures the title, he could lure Mayweather to a big money showdown at the Philippine Arena as a fitting climax to an incredible career. It?s a plan, however, that has several stumbling blocks.
On the political front, Pacquiao vented his frustrations last week in traversing political waters in the Senate. Lawyer Jojo Bondoc, who assists Pacquiao in the Senate, said the Senator isn?t used to playing politics and would rather stand by his bills on merit. Some of Pacquiao?s pending bills involve OFWs, duties on cigarets, the return of ROTC in schools, the creation of a boxing commission, the imposition of the death penalty and increased penalties for certain heinous crimes and many more.
Bondoc said Pacquiao is changing the political scene with his sincerity and genuine appreciation of poverty issues. ?There?s a difference when you?ve experienced poverty like I have,? Pacquiao once said. ?I don?t only know poverty, I?ve felt it. It?s what drives me to work for our people.?

Photo: Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao (C) poses with his associates at a recent trip to Beijing, China.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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