Why Pacquiao's UAE fight may never happen

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Manny Pacquiao

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…


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.


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.

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