Manny Pacquiao: "I will be going home as world champion"

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Manny Pacquiao.

Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao arrived in Australia ahead of his title fight with Jeff Horn and declared: “I will be going home as world champion.”

The “Pac Man” touched down in Brisbane late Saturday from Manila with a large entourage for his World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane next weekend.

“In all my years of boxing, I have never been as motivated and fired up as this fight,” he told reporters at the airport.

“My team is very happy with my preparation. I am looking forward to this and I will be going home as world champion.”

Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 knockouts) is a clear favourite against Horn, although the Filipino great has not stopped an opponent since his 12th round TKO of Miguel Cotto in 2009.

The eight-weight world champion has said he is using the bout as an opportunity to prove he remains a global force at the age of 38 as he juggles boxing with a full-time job as a senator in the Philippines.

“I’m so thankful for this great opportunity to be here in Australia and fight here, and the warm welcome of the people here,” Pacquiao said.

“I think this is one of the biggest crowds that I’m going to fight to. I love the fans shouting and cheering for me, or for Horn. I like that, it’s exciting.”

Pacquiao, who briefly retired early last year before making a successful comeback against Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas in November, will need to be on song against the unbeaten Horn, who has won 16 of his 17 fights with one draw.

A relatively unknown physical education teacher, the 29-year-old Australian has been dubbed the “fighting schoolteacher” by promoters, who say the 50,000-seat Suncorp Stadium is almost sold out.

“I consider him a tough opponent,” Pacquiao said. “I never underestimate my opponent. He’s undefeated, he’s young. I like aggressive fighters.”

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Will Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor damage boxing’s credibility?

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Floyd Mayweather is coming out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor.

Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement to meet UFC lighweight champion Conor McGregor in an eagerly anticipated boxing match at the T-Mobile Arena on August 26.

Mayweather will be aiming to become the first boxer to go 50-0 while the Irishman will be competing in his first ever professional boxing bout.

As you can imagine the clash has polarised opinion across the globe so our expert writers have offered their views.

***

Do you think Mayweather v McGregor will damage boxing’s credibility?

Let us know your thoughts as our two writers debate his future.

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

ALEX REA (@AlexReaSport) – SAYS YES

Floyd Mayweather Jr insists he is “giving the people what they want” by agreeing to the carnival clash with Conor McGregor on August 26. And while that may be the case in casual circles, in a wider context it’s not what the sport needs, or indeed wants.

Boxing has enjoyed a meteoric resurgence in 2017 to starve nonsensical suggestions that the sport is dead. Although the May/Mac hybrid event won’t kill it off entirely, it’s certainly a stab in the back.

The fight completely goes against the notion of competition because it’s a foregone conclusion, with the 49-0 boxer, the best of his era, sealing the prestigious 50-0 mark against a complete novice.

But it’s not just the predetermined outcome which will hurt boxing’s credibility, it will be the nature of it. The lingering stench left by Mayweather’s lopsided win over Manny Pacquiao two years ago has only just dissipated with his exit from the ring allowing the likes of Saul Alvarez and Anthony Joshua to flourish.

Their brand of violence has come to hallmark a fine year which has stimulated interest in boxing, but Mayweather’s defensive style is the complete antithesis, a skillset which disillusioned a wider audience.

In MMA, McGregor has almost exclusively fought as a counter-puncher and against a defensive boxer like Mayweather it will make for periods of painful inactivity. A one-sided battering, or even an attempt to brawl from the Irishman could be viewed as entertainment even if not competitive.

But chances are Floyd will walk to victory by barely throwing or receiving a punch.

It also comes just three weeks before a genuine fight of the year candidate in Alvarez v Gennady Golovkin. May/Mac sucks the oxygen out of that contest while also siphoning the life out of a sport which has been reborn in Mayweather’s absence.

This clear moneygrab is an abuse boxing doesn’t deserve.

JAMES PIERCY (@piercy360) – SAYS NO

Because of the nature of the personalities involved and the acknowledgement they’re doing this purely for money, the public should be able to separate this from the rest of the boxing world and see it for what it is.

At best, a more legitimate real-life version of Rocky v Thunderlips or, at worst, a freak show in which the very worst aspects of the fight game are broadcast before, during and after what will undoubtedly be a one-sided contest.

Conor McGregor’s first professional boxing bout against one of the greatest of all time will be short. The Irishman is essentially being paid $80 million to step into a ring and get beaten up.

And that ludicrous and trivial nature of the contest means nobody is going to be taking it seriously. Providing McGregor avoids severe injuries he’ll return to the UFC soon enough considerably richer and it won’t affect his standing in MMA, while Mayweather will return to retirement to buy some Bugattis.

When you factor in the pantomime that we’re going to be subjected over the next two months in terms of the verbal build-up, it’s going to be a circus. Entertainment over sport.

It would be a real concern if this fight had happened 12 months ago when the sport was at its lowest ebb as a series of faceless champions wore belts nobody cared about, and the biggest names sleepwalked through bouts. Mayweather v McGregor would have been viewed with excitement, as a means of jolting life into the fight game.

And, that, would have led to real damage because, then what comes next? Does that then dictate the future of the sport? But with Joshua-Klitschko and a reinvigorated heavyweight division plus Golovkin-Alvarez to come, the landscape has shifted considerably.

Boxing is in a healthy place and strong enough to keep August 26 as the fun but ultimately gaudy sideshow it deserves to be.

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Floyd Mayweather's boxing bout with UFC star Conor McGregor is criticised by Ricky Hatton

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Ricky Hatton

Ricky Hatton has criticised the arrangement of a bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, despite being an admirer of both fighters.

It was announced earlier in the week that 40-year-old former multi-weight world champion Mayweather would come out of retirement to put his 49-0 record on the line against mixed martial arts champion McGregor in Las Vegas this summer.

The Irishman has never boxed and critics have questioned the integrity of a contest against one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Hatton, who was stopped by Mayweather in the 10th round when the pair met in 2007, predicts the American could win every round, although accepts there could be plenty of entertainment.

“I cant say I’m a fan of it,” Hatton told BBC Radio 5 live.

“I’m a fan of UFC, a fan of McGregor – he’s got character, he’s exciting, entertaining, value for money.

“I hope I don’t upset any Irish fans or Conor, but I can’t get excited about this fight one bit.

“It’s going to be great entertainment – that’s the most complimentary I can be about it. It’s two different sports.”

Mayweather will reportedly be paid over $100million for the contest, which will be broadcast on pay-per-view networks across the world.

Hatton places no blame on the fighters for accepting what is likely to be a nine-figure purse, but believes McGregor will struggle to make an impact once the bell sounds.

“When I look at some of the people Mayweather has beaten like Saul Alvarez – he’s not going to be as big a puncher as Alvarez, and he couldn’t lay a glove on him.

“I feel embarrassed to say this but I’d be very surprised if (McGregor) wins a round.

“I hope he does well, I hope he wins; there’s no doubt whose corner I’m in, but if you’re asking me to be brutally honest I can’t see anything other than a shut-out for Mayweather. I think it could be a 12-round onslaught, to be honest with you.

“Boxing and UFC have to take the blame for it – I don’t think you can blame the fighters because it’s going to be a stack of money.

“Good luck to the boys. Who’s going to turn their back on that? I just can’t say I’m a fan of this.

“I’m fans of both sports but they’re their own individual sports and they should stick to their own.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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