Gone with the wind


Ed C. Tolentino

As this writer had envisioned in previous columns, the huge offer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to host Manny Pacquiao’s next fight is just a figment of the imagination.

No less than Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum recently declared the reported $38 million offer as nothing short of a fantasy. “Their reach was not equal to their grasp,” said Arum of the group behind the UAE bid. “They couldn’t raise the money.”

What is surprising, however, is that Pacquiao almost fell for it. In the thick of the negotiations for a fight in Australia involving Jeff Horn, Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s financial adviser, suddenly announced that Pacquiao is fighting in the UAE next and that Australia was really just a backup plan. Pacquiao impliedly seconded Koncz’s announcement by tweeting “See you in UAE.” As Arum described it, the insane amount offered by the UAE had Pacquiao and his people instantly jumping on it without even considering if it was legitimate. As Arum zeroed in on the people behind the offer, they turned out to be nothing more than “a travel agency who were chasing a dream. They weren’t government people.”

This writer had pointed out that UAE has virtually zero background when it comes to staging big-time world title fights. The huge time difference between the UAE and the USA (roughly nine hours), coupled by the lack of big-fight experience, readily spell technical snafus. The business culture in the UAE is also very different from the normal course; it is one dictated by the rich, influential families and one can already imagine the headaches Arum is likely to endure in trying to put up the big fight there amid flip-flopping rules.

Arum disclosed that he has made a counter offer for a Pacquiao fight possibly in June or July, but with strict instructions for Pacquiao’s men to study the matter first before spilling it out to the media. Arum did make it clear that Amir Khan is out of the picture and no fight between the Briton and Pacquiao can take place within the June/July time frame. A November date is possible, although Arum remains very skeptical about it.

The nitty-gritty of Arum’s counter offer remains a mystery, but it is possible that the aborted talks between Pacquiao and Horn’s men might be revived. Arum is very much involved in this and considerable progress had been made until the UAE offer darted into the picture. Pacquiao reportedly balked at the $5 million offer for the Horn fight and the negotiations may be picked from this issue. A Pacquiao-Horn fight is guaranteed to sell if staged in Australia which is, unlike the UAE, tested when it comes to handling boxing title fights. Australia has a rich history in pro boxing, with great champions like Jeff Fenech.

Hopefully, Pacquiao and his men had learned something from the UAE experience where they almost got burned. As the old adage goes, not all that glitters is gold.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.


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