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Saudi beckons for Manny’s next fight


PhilBoxing.com





There are four possible dates on the table for super WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s next fight and Saudi Arabia looms as the host country to mark his first title defense since dethroning Keith Thurman in Las Vegas in July last year. Two dates are in March and two more are in April with April 10 the likely target to allow at least a two-month training period.

No opponent has been mentioned but former four-division world titlist Mikey Garcia, an American of Mexican descent, appears to be the frontrunner. Pacquiao himself said Garcia is a candidate. “It’ll be an honor to fight Manny anywhere he wants,” Garcia told The Star. “He’s earned the right to choose where he’ll fight. The man’s a legend but I’m a fighter and I won’t back down from the opportunity to fight and beat a legend anywhere in the world.”

Pacquiao said he plans to do one or two fights next year during a face-to-face, hour-long conversation in Makati last Friday. April is earmarked for the first fight and if there’s a second, it will be in September, maybe against Conor McGregor. Pacquiao is expected to clear out his calendar in October which is when candidates for the 2022 elections will file their certificates with COMELEC. Pacquiao’s six-year term as Senator expires in 2022. While he hasn’t disclosed plans to run for any office, Pacquiao will be actively involved in the polls as newly-designated president of the ruling PDP-Laban party and possibly, as a candidate.

If a second fight pushes through in September, Pacquiao said there will be enough time to prepare after the outing in April. The opponent for the second bout could be McGregor who battles Dustin Poirier in a UFC rematch on Jan. 23 and was stopped by Floyd Mayweather in the 10th round in 2017. Promoter Audie Attar, who has ties with both Pacquiao and McGregor, said “it’s a fight we are definitely going to make because both fighters want it and there seems to be an interest from fans all around the world.”

Pacquiao was in General Santos City from last June to November then spent a month in Manila before returning home last Monday. He said he couldn’t work out during his one-month stay in Manila because of a hectic schedule, attending to Senate duties, working on bills, visiting calamity victims in relief missions and presiding in political meetings. Now that he’s back in General Santos City, Pacquiao said he’ll make time to train, play basketball and stay in shape. “Hinahanap na ng katawan ko,” he said with a smile. Tomorrow (Thursday, Dec 17), Pacquiao will celebrate his 42nd birthday in the city where he was raised.


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


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