MACAO: Asian boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao will not only have the support of a Filipino-packed crowd when he fights Brandon Rios on Sunday, but also a phalanx of celebrity cheerleaders, led by David Beckham.
The former England football captain will be joined at the Macau ringside by a number of celebrity guests for the fight, including Oscar-wining actor and director George Clooney, Sands China CEO Ed Tracy confirmed.
Reality TV star Paris Hilton and Daniel Wu and Eddie Peng will also be at ringside, while American rap superstar 50 Cent is also strongly rumored to be flying in to see “Pac-Man’s” comeback fight.
Singing star Alicia Keys, who has been performing concerts at the Venetian Resort where the bout will take place, is also expected to attend.
Beckham jetted in to the southern Chinese city on Friday and immediately declared himself to be a “huge fan” of eight-weight world champion Pacquiao.
Beckham arrived to announce a commercial partnership with the resort’s owners, Sands Las Vegas, but then let slip the real reason why he had decided to travel to the semi-autonomous Chinese region this weekend.
“[Pacquiao] is obviously one of the reasons why I’m here and why I’m really excited,” said the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star at a press conference.
“I’m a huge fan of Manny’s. I met him a couple of years ago in the Philippines, when I was on tour there with the LA Galaxy and also there with UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund].
“He really is a truly inspirational person.”
Beckham also had a message for the people of the Philippines as they attempt to rebuild their towns and lives after the devastation wreaked by Super Typhoon Haiyan on November 8, which has left nearly 7,000 people dead or missing.
“The eyes of the world have been on the Philippines the last couple of weeks,” said Beckham.
“This fight will mean so much to Manny because, for a slight moment, it’s going to put a smile on the people’s faces in the Philippines.
“And we all send out love and our hopes to the people in that part of the world.”
Pacquiao, coming off back-to-back defeats for the first time in his glittering career, takes on Rios in a “must-win” bout for the World Boxing Organization international welterweight championship in Macau on Sunday morning (Saturday night in the US).
The boxers are expected to touch gloves for the main event around 11:30 am (0330 GMT).