Manny Pacquiao talks basketball, boxing and politics after warm welcome at DXB

The world’s only eight-division boxing champion and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao arrived in Dubai Monday night ahead of this weekend’s PBA Philippine Cup.

Jose Maria Santos 2015/11/02

The world’s only eight-division boxing champion and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao arrived in Dubai Monday night ahead of this weekend’s PBA Philippine Cup.

Pacquiao, whose illustrious record in boxing is 57 wins, six defeats and two draws from 65 fights, with 10 world titles, is player-coach of the Mahindra Enforcers, a professional outfit in the Philippine Basketball Association.

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And the 36-year-old, who was greeted by large numbers of fans and media at Dubai International airport, said: “This is my first time (in Dubai) and I feel so happy to be here. Thank you for the warm welcome, especially to the Filipino people in Dubai.”

Pacquiao is due to fight once more before retiring and concentrating on his political career, and he said Dubai is a possible venue for his farewell bout next April.

“I’d love to have a fight here in Dubai but I don’t know yet,” he said. “We are working on that.”

Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council, who welcomed Pacquiao at the airport, told Sport360: “Dubai is looking for that (to host the fight) and if he wants it, we will sit and discuss it.”

When asked about the identity of his opponent, Pacquiao reeled off a four-man shortlist but insisted nothing has been decided as yet.

“I have no preference, it can be anybody – it depends on the negotiation,” he added. “There is Amir Khan, a rematch with (Floyd) Mayweather, (Danny) Garcia or (Terence) Crawford.”

Aside from boxing and basketball, Pacquiao is also an elected congressman and is hoping to win a seat in the Philippine Senate in next year’s national elections.

Although he is heavily criticised for his absenteeism in congress, he last night reiterated his promise to hang up his gloves if elected to the Senate.

“Only basketball if I win in the Senate,” he added.

Although Pacquiao has already filed for his candidacy, he said his visit in Dubai was purely for sport and not to campaign for the votes of Filipino expats in the UAE.

“I’m here for few a days to go around and see the beauty of Dubai and to meet the Filipinos and play basketball,” he said. “I was invited to play (basketball) and there’s no politics involved. Just sport.”

When asked of his chances to win a seat in the Senate, he said. “It’s hard to say but we’ll see – it’s up to the people.”

Paul Raymund Cortes, the Philippine Consul General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said: “Pacquiao’s visit augurs well for the good relations between the UAE and the Philippines. He’s popular not just among Filipinos but internationally and it’s a boost for Filipinos in Dubai to see him in the flesh.”

Pacquiao’s Mahindra Enforcers team are in action at Al Wasl Club on Friday, November 6, while he is also set to visit the du shop at Dubai Mall on Wednesday and the new Go Sport store at the Mall of the Emirates on Thursday.

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