Pacquiao signs with Chinese apparel brand ANTA

LAS VEGAS, USA - Manny Pacquiao will be outfitted by Chinese apparel brand ANTA after signing an endorsement deal with them ahead of his challenge of WBO welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas on Saturday, November 5 (Sunday Manila time), at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 knockouts) had a messy divorce with his previous apparel endorser Nike earlier this year after his controversial comment on same-sex marriages went viral before his third fight with Timothy Bradley Jr in April.

His statement that gay couples are "worse than animals" hurt his marketability in the United States but didn't hurt his chances of being elected to the Philippine Senate in May. (READ: Pacquiao regrets comparing gays to animals, but stands firm on belief)

Pacquiao, an 8-division boxing champion, said in a press statement that he learned more about the brand from Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from China who will fight for the WBO flyweight title against Prasitsak Phaprom on the Pacquiao-Vargas undercard.

"Not only is it a leading brand in China, but it has a strong global influence," said Pacquiao in the release. "Undoubtedly ANTA is very professional in the research and development of boxing products as well as the promotion of boxing events. I am looking forward to advocating professional boxing with ANTA around the world." (READ: Pacquiao vs Vargas pits ‘young lion’ against living legend)

Pacquiao has been seen wearing ANTA t-shirts, jumpers, and trunks in training and during the weigh-in on Friday, and is expected to wear ANTA trunks on fight night. Pacquiao's "Fight On" t-shirt isn't available for purchase in any of the Las Vegas gift shops carrying Pacquiao vs Vargas merchandise, but a source in Pacquiao's camp says it will be available on ANTA's online store.

In addition to Pacquiao and Shiming, ANTA also sponsors NBA stars Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Klay Thompson, and Luis Scola. – Rappler.com