WBO welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao, has confirmed that his next fight will take place in the United Arab Emirates, in April.
“We are really going to fight in the UAE by April. I don’t really have a fixed date, probably the third week of April,” said Pacquiao, speaking to GMA News.
Whilst no opponent was formally named by Pacquiao, the eight-division world champion did admit that negotiations were still taking place with representatives of Australian welterweight, Jeff Horn.
A fight with Horn, in Australia, has been widely trumpeted by Pacquiao’s promoter and Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum. Arum worked closely with Horn’s promoter, Duco Events, to create a suitable deal for Pacquiao, in order to bring the fight to Australia.
However, earlier this week, Pacquiao’s promoter, Michael Koncz, announced that Pacquiao’s next fight would definitely take place in the UAE.
This was followed by two tweets from Pacquiao, one confirming the fight in the UAE and the second asking his followers who they wanted to see him fight next.
The second tweet, a Twitter poll, gave followers four options; Jeff Horn, Amir Khan, Terence Crawford and Kell Brook. When the poll had closed it had received over 44,000 votes. Jeff Horn placed last, gaining just 7% of the vote, whilst Amir Khan ran away with the vote, beating his nearest rival by over 20% and claiming 48% of all votes cast.
Despite such developments, the head of Duco Events, Dean Lonergan, remains positive.
“Michael Koncz has looked at other options, and he is well within his rights to do so,” said Lonergan. “But Top Rank will still make the final call in consultation with Manny.”
Koncz, however, has different ideas about who makes the final call.
“I was aware that Bob was talking in Australia about hosting the fight there but it is fine with us,” said Koncz. “I told Bob to go ahead but don’t close it. When Bob said it will happen there I asked him what you are talking about? A promoter works for the boxer but the boxer doesn’t work for the promoter. We have had a successful bond with him but Manny is the boss. I told him why are you speaking to the media when it is just a backup plan.”
Perhaps the most interesting statement Pacquiao made was in relation to the idea of fighting in the Phillippines later this year.
“We want to work things out to have a fight here in the Philippines after the fight in UAE. Maybe as a way to end my career in boxing, we can have an event here,” said, Pacquiao.
It is possible that Pacquiao will fight both Horn and Khan in 2017, with the order and venues more open to change than initial reports suggested.
Exactly how this situation will play out remains unclear but an announcement from Pacquiao is expected in the coming days.