MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao announced on his Twitter account that his next fight will take place in the United Arab Emirates. No exact venue was listed for the April 23 fight, though the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi were listed as possibilities by Pacquiao's adviser Michael Koncz in a conversation last month.
Pacquiao posted the none-too-subtle message on his Twitter on Sunday, February 12 – "See you in UAE for my next fight" – making good on years of consideration for the Middle Eastern nation with a large Filipino population to host one of his fights. UAE would be the sixth country the 38-year-old has fought in.
See you in UAE for my next fight. #TeamPacquiao pic.twitter.com/AioncFnlrV — Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) February 12, 2017
Pacquiao, the current WBO welterweight titleholder and Philippine senator, is expected to face Australian Jeff Horn, an unbeaten but relatively unknown fighter who is rated number two in the 147-pound division by the WBO.
Pacquiao had told Rappler it was his "first time" to hear Horn's name, when asked if he was previously familiar with the Australian fighter (16-0-1, 11 knockouts). Horn would be Pacquiao's first opponent in 10 years who is not a former or current world champion.
Emails to Koncz and Pacquiao's promoter Top Rank were not answered by the time of this story's publication. An attempt to call Koncz on Sunday afternoon went straight to voicemail.
Dean Lonergan, the CEO of Horn's promoter Duco Events, contested the developments, telling Courier Mail he had been discussing with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum for "many weeks" to bring the fight to the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, which is Horn's hometown.
"The only person authorized to promote Manny Pacquiao is Bob Arum," said Lonergan.
"Until Bob Arum tells me differently we are continuing with that aim of having the fight at Suncorp Stadium on April 23."
In a story on BoxingScene, Koncz apologized to the Australian government, which had lobbied strongly to host Pacquiao's next fight.
"We have executed the agreement in the morning and 100% the fight will he here in the UAE," Koncz is quoted as saying.
"It took us a while to get this deal together," he added. "There was a lot of confusion whether this is going to happen here in the UAE. [But] I'm here with full authority and power."
Horn's manager Glenn Rushton told Rappler weeks ago that his side would prefer the fight take place in Australia but added, "We'll fight on the moon if we have to." – Rappler.com