Boxing great Manny Pacquiao wants to put on a show in Singapore someday.
"The Fighting Pride of the Philippines” is fiercely dedicated to his nation – and that includes reaching out to the estimated 400,000-strong community of fellow Filipinos living and working in the Lion City.
"It is my dream to fight in Singapore," he told reporters at a private event in Marina Bay Sands (MBS) on Friday to promote his November bout with Brandon Rios in Macau, China.
Pacquiao spoke often about “honour to country” -- the single largest reason why the 34-year-old, 1.69m-tall southpaw refuses to hang up his decorated gloves, despite intense pressure to end his career after two crushing back-to-back losses.
“I (still) have to encourage boxers in the Philippines so when I retire, there’s another Manny Pacquiao to represent our flag,” said Pacquaio, revealing that he is already in the midst of building boxing gyms all over the country.
Even after 61 bouts – out of which 38 were won by knockout – and attaining unprecedented status as ten-time world champion across eight weight divisions, Pacquiao doesn’t think he’s slowing down.
“I still can fight more,” insisted the second highest -paid athlete in the world, adding that when the day arrives, he would like his last fight ever to be in Manila, Philippines.
Bob Arum, Pacquaio’s long-time promoter, is also hoping for a future bout of his to take place in Singapore.
“I would bring (a fight) to Singapore in two seconds,” joked the boss of boxing company Top Rank.
He plans to hold one major fight a month between casino venues like the MBS and the Venetian Macao.
“Singapore will happen as soon as they give me a date,” said Arum. “I think we can be very successful doing an event at the convention centre here (at MBS) for 4,500 people.”
There appears to be sufficient local interest to back Arum up – going by response to the Pacquiao-Rios fight.
According to Edward Tracy, president of Sands China Ltd, Singapore ranks third on the list of number of tickets sold, after Hong Kong and the Philippines, for the upcoming battle.
Weighing on ‘Pac-Man’
Also factoring against Pacquiao’s retirement is the tantalising – even if increasingly distant – prospect of a epic showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr, currently rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
“A lot of fans want to see that fight, and I’m looking forward to it,” said the soft-spoken Filipino. “But I don’t think he wants to fight.”
“Never say never,” was Arum’s attitude to the match-up, while criticising the undefeated American slugger for having a “narrow view on life.”
“The problem with Mayweather: he would insist that a fight between him and Pacquiao be held in the U.S.,” said Arum. “Why not Asia? Because he thinks that’s not fair. He thinks by fighting in Asia he’s fighting in front of Manny’s people.”
“He thinks all you guys are the same, all Filipinos,” scoffed the 81-year-old.
Separately, Pacquaio also addressed the controversy that arose after he expressed interest in becoming president of the Philippines.
“I’m not saying I’m going to run. But if it’s God’s will, then it will be done,” said the boxer, who wears multiple hats as a politician, actor and singer.
“Right now, I’m happy and focused on my position as a congressman. A higher position – I don’t have that in my mind right now,” he said.
Manny Pacquiao battles Brandon Rios at the Venetian Macao in Macao, China on 24 November. Fans in Singapore can catch the live broadcast from MBS Expo and Convention Centre at 9am for $50. Tickets for the latter go on sale 2 September.