MANNY Pacquiao goes into big-time boxing promotion as he stages former Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga’s upcoming fight in China by the end of the month.
Pacquiao’s MP Promotions will be the lead outfit in the Sept. 29 boxing card in Beijing, China, which Barriga headlines as he battles Wittawas Basapean of Thailand in a scheduled 12-round bout in which the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) International minimumweight crown will be at stake.
Barriga, who represented the country in the 2012 London Games, is among the high-profiled fighters under the MP stable along with reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas.
The promotion, being held in cooperation with the Dancing Sports Industry of Beijing, will be the first in a series of boxing cards the 38-year-old Pacquiao plans to promote internationally, specifically in China, where there is a growing market for pro boxing.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy has partnered with Pacquiao in the promotion. The Filipino delegation will be leaving for the Chinese capital on Sept. 28 and returns to the country two days later.
Sy and Pacquiao go a long way, having been together early in the boxing career of the eighth-time world division champion.
The long-time sports patron was among the financial backers of the 38-year-old Pacquiao especially when he was trying to make a return in boxing in the late 90s and early 2000 after losing his World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight title against Medgoen Singsurat.
“Now we’re 50-50 in boxing promotions,” said Sy on Monday.
The Blackwater team owner also recalled how he employed the help of Pacquiao to be the personal trainer of Asi Taulava when the 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan was still starting out with Sy’s Blu team in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL).
Barriga has been unbeaten in six bouts since turning pro last year when he failed to get a shot of seeing action in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In Wittawas, the 24-year-old from Panabo, Davao del Norte will be up against a veteran fighter, who twice fought for the world light-flyweight title against Naoya Inoue (WBC) and Akira Yaegashi (IBF) in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The Thai (33-6, 12 KOs) lost both fights by TKO.