MANNY Pacquiao is not about to go to the lion’s den and defend his world welterweight title.
The 38-year-old Filipino great is headed to Abu Dhabi - and not down under in Australia - for his first defense of the WBO version of the 147-lbs belt on April 23 against unheralded challenger Jeff Horn.
“It’s Abu Dhabi, not Australia and not Dubai,” Eric Pineda, business manager and close associate of Pacquiao, confirmed to SPIN.ph.
The eight-time world division champion later tweeted on his official account @mannypacquiao about the 12-round match headed to the capital of United Arab Emirates two months from now.
‘See you in UAE for my next fight,’ announced the Pacman with the hashtag #TeamPacquiao.
The statement comes in light of reports that Top Rank and Duco Events, which represent the unbeaten Horn, are already close to reaching a deal to hold the biggest event in Australian boxing history at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
“Duco have been working with Top Rank over the past three months to have the fight in Brisbane,” said Duco Events head Dean Lonergan in an interview that came out on Fightnews.
“We are nearing completion of the deal, and as far as I’m concerned, Top Rank is the exclusive promoter of Manny Pacquiao, and until Top Rank tells me otherwise, we shall continue to try and get this deal done.”
But Pineda said Pacquiao should have a big say on where the bout will be held, being the top attraction of the summer fight card.
“It’s still Manny who will decide,” said Pineda, team representative of Mahindra in the PBA board and a member of Congress representing the 1Pacman party list.
“Besides, it's the champion, and not the challenger, who should dictate the terms (of the match).”
The title defense will be the first for Pacquiao, who is also a senator, since scoring a unanimous decision win over Jessie Vargas in November last year to regain a piece of the world welterweight championship.