This week, Manny Pacquiao made even greater waves that the Filipino usually does among the huge expat community of his homeland in the UAE.
He tweeted, after years of teased misadventures, that his next fight would take place in the emirates.
That’s right, the claims and counter-claims have left the building and we can all begin to totally lose the plot at the thought of Pacquiao stepping into a UAE ring.
Or are they? Sport360’s resident boxing and MMA expert Alex Rea looks at why we should probably be looking at this news with a big old pinch of salt.
But first, let’s not get too down…
REASONS WHY A FIGHT COULD HAPPEN
1. No shortage of venues in the UAE
Between Abu Dhabi and Dubai – though the latter is apparently Manny Pacquiao’s preferred location – there are a number of venues potentially capable of hosting a boxing bout. Dubai World Trade Centre immediately springs to mind, as does Hamdan Sports Complex and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
2. Appetite to see the Filipino icon
A major boxing event is one of the few sports absent from the UAE’s portfolio. There have been numerous attempts to stage a big fight but one is yet to materialise. Pacquiao, of course, would be well supported in the UAE as well given the vast number of expatriates from his native in the Philippines.
Who do you want me to fight next in the UAE?— Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) February 12, 2017
REASONS WHY IT WON’T COME TOGETHER
1. Issues with broadcasting
One of the major stumbling blocks to bringing Pacquiao to the UAE would be that broadcasters in the Middle East either don’t have the capability or wouldn’t want to risk the millions required to put the fight on pay-per-view. There’s also no guarantee that ABS-CBN – Philippines broadcaster – could distribute here.
2. Absence of significant investment
The knock-on effect of not having a HBO/ Showtime/Sky Sports to put together a package is that individual investment is needed in order to pay the purses. Given Pacquiao earned well over $100m for his bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. he will be after big bucks to fight in the UAE.
3. Horn not the best name for the region
The unbeaten Australian Jeff Horn is a relative unknown to even the most keen-eyed boxing fan, never mind, a casual audience. The 29-year-old has fought 17 times and not one has been outside the ANZAC region. He’s also rated behind other standout fighters at 147lbs with Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Kell Brook all a step above.
Super Fight League, the world’s first mixed martial arts league, saw Delhi Heroes beat Sher-e-Punjab 17-10 on February 10.
Earlier in the week, actor and Delhi Heroes owner Arjun Rampal urged fans to come in large numbers for his team’s crucial encounter and he wasn’t disappointed with the support for his team at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
The Delhi Heroes join Group A leaders Sher-e-Punjab into the semi-finals.
In a do-or-die match on 11th February 2017, Ajay Devgn’s Mumbai Maniacs will take on Tiger Shroff’s Bengaluru Tigers who are leading the group. In addition to a win, the Mumbai Maniacs also need to hope that Jacqueline Fernandez’s Goa Pirates lose to Intex’s Gujarat Warriors for a place in the semi-finals.
Last weekend, Tiger Shroff, the co-owner of Bengaluru Tigers, showed off some of the key martial arts moves while Govinda in his Mumbaiya style mesmerized the audience with famous yesteryears dialogues.
Salim-Sulaiman who had earlier performed at the opening ceremony on January 20th 2017 was also present to support their team UP Nawabs.
Bollywood celebrities Ajay Devgn, Salim & Sulaiman and Randeep Hooda who co-own Super Fight League teams Mumbai Maniacs, UP Nawabs and Haryana Sultans respectively have come out in support of their teams during the league.
Former cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin and India’s First Formula One Motor Racing Driver Narain Karthikeyan also witnessed the action over the course of the inaugural season of Super Fight League.
World featherweight champion Carl Frampton will step into the ring on Sunday morning (UAE time) to face Leo Santa Cruz II in an absorbing match in Las Vegas.
It’s also a rematch as Belfast-born Frampton beat Santa Cruz in New York back in July.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this eagerly anticipated fight.
WHERE IS THE FIGHT ON?
MGM Arena, Las Vegas.
WHAT TIME WILL IT START?
Approximately 3am GMT (7am UAE time)
HOW CAN I WATCH IT?
beIN Sports and Sky Sports 1
WHICH FIGHTER HAS A BETTER RECORD?
LEO SANTA CRUZ II