Dubai could be Manny's ring next year
BOXING ICON: Eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao presents a signed basketball to Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, on Thursday. - Shihab
Dubai - The Filipino boxing ace hinted that he might fight British champion Amir Khan in the Emirate
It is often said that whenever Manny Pacquiao fights, thousands of miles away in the Philippines, the streets are quiet and are free of crime. Each and every Filipino are glued to their television sets when he goes about throwing punches.
He inspires them, gives them hope. And the man, who from humble beginnings has gone on to become a world champion in eight divisions, the only boxer to do so, Pacquiao has done so again, given us hope, hope of a possible fight in Dubai next year.
Having landed in Dubai at 4.24am on the long-haul EK335 Emirates flight from Manila, Pacquiao had hardly any time to catch a nap despite nine hours on a plane. Media engagements were in order as well as an appearance at the Dubai Sports Council's (DSC) office in Dubai Design District on Thursday.
The 'Pac-man' is on a three-day sojourn to the Emirate, mainly to promote the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, titled the 'Dubai Invasion 2019,' that will be held at the sprawling Hamdan Sports Complex on Friday and Saturday.
And while he spoke about the tournament, Pacquiao very heavily hinted that a long-awaited fight in Dubai could possibly come to fruition late next year.
Fresh from his split decision win over Keith Thurman in the WBA super-welterweight title bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao revealed that a bout, many years in the making, could be played out here, and perhaps against British champion Amir Khan.
"I'm planning for next year. I'm trying to negotiate for next year. Amir Khan wants to fight me so we will talk again. It will be a beautiful fight, a good fight," Pacquiao told reporters.
"We didn't talk personally. Hopefully, after my one fight next year, we can talk and possibly bring the fight here to Dubai with him. I think Dubai is the right place to bring the fight. I'm hoping to bring my fight here to Dubai late next year. There are a lot of Filipinos here," he added.
If it does come to fruition, one can just imagine the scenes. There was restricted access to the DSC office with only the press corps allowed. But there were still a large number of people who wanted a slice of him.
On that evidence alone, one shudders to think of what the atmosphere would be with Pacquiao, one of the best pound-for-pound boxers, taking on Amir Khan at the brand-new Coca Cola Arena.
Pacquiao is now a Senator, and could quite possibly become the Philippines President when elections are held in 2022. He is already 40 but the fire to fight still burns for the man, whose story is the stuff of fairytales.
"I can still fight. The secret is just discipline," he said smiling.
Pacquiao taking on 'King' Khan is an exciting prospect for sure but 'The People's Champ' is itching for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Pacquiao, who fought through a shoulder injury, lost to Mayweather in controversial circumstances, by a unanimous decision at the MGM Grand, four years ago. The bout was billed as the 'Fight of the Century' and went on to break records in terms of revenue.
Pacquiao said that the pair could face-off in the ring again.
"My people and his people are talking to each other. So, we will know what's the development because I don't have an update yet," Pacquiao revealed.
And while those bouts can wait, Pacquiao had a bit of advice for budding boxers.
"Hard work and discipline," he said.
"You should never underestimate boxing. Don't take it lightly because boxing is about hard work, not just training but it is about hard work, how you discipline yourself, how you punish yourself in training," added Pacquiao.
IMPORTANT INFO:WHAT: Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League 'Dubai Invasion 2019'
WHEN: Friday and Saturday
WHERE: Hamdan Sports Complex
TIME: 6 p.m
TEAMS: Davao Occidental Tigers-Cocolife, Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay, Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma
ORDER OF PLAY:
Today: Team Pacquiao vs Dubai All-Stars, 6 p.m; Davao Occidental Tigers-Cocolife vs Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay, 8 p.m
Saturday: Team Pacquiao vs Dubai All-Stars, 6 p.m; Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay vs Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma, 8 p.m
TICKETS: Priced at Dh 50 (Silver), Dh 100 (Gold), Dh 200 (VIP), and available on meraticket.com
HOW TO GET THERE: Free transportation for ticket holders from bus stations located in Deira City Centre, Satwa, Karama and Mall of the Emirates