Pacquiao vs Yao Ming as Philippines, China bring in heavy hitters for 2019 World Cup bid
Present in Tokyo to boost their respective country's bid to win the hosting rights for the 2019 Fiba World Cup are boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, retired NBA star Yao Ming and rising star Kobe Paras. Photos from Twitter account of Chot Reyes

IN one corner is boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, backed up by rising basketball star Kobe Paras and Fil-Am Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips.

In the red corner is former NBA star Yao Ming.

Pacquiao vs Yao has become an interesting sub plot to the battle between the Philippines and China for the hosting rights for the 2019 basketball World Cup set on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.

[See Moment of truth for PH, China as Fiba decides on 2019 World Cup host]

The Fiba Central Board is set to award the hosting rights to one of the two remaining bidders after a 20-minute presentation from both sides, to be followed by a question-and-answer portion ala beauty pageant.

As expected, the two sides brought in two of the most popular athletes from Asia to back their respective bids.

The 7-6 Yao was the first Asian basketball player to be selected No. 1 overall in the NBA rookie draft. He was an eight-time All-Star with the Houston Rockets before retiring in 2011.

On the other hand, Pacquiao is the world's only eight-division world boxing champion and was once regarded as the world's best boxer pound for pound. He is also playing coach of KIA in the PBA.

Pacquiao has been in Tokyo since Tuesday to back up the Philippines' bid to bring the world championships back to Manila for the first time since 1978.

On the other hand, Yao is expected to make a pitch for China, which hosted the 2008 Olympic Games and has recently won the rights to host the 2022 Winter Games.

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