Pacquiao deal for July fight vs. Horn done

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The deal is finally done for Manny Pacquiao to defend his welterweight world title against Jeff Horn at Suncorp Stadium in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia, on July 2 (July 1 in the United States).

After months of will-they-or-won’t-they-fight, the deal was officially announced by Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank on Monday, two days after Horn promoter Duco Events said it would take place.

Top Rank, however, said there were still a few details to be finalized before the deal was set. On Monday, the deal for the “Battle of Brisbane” was completed.

“Manny has been a pioneer, bringing world title fights to Cowboys Stadium, The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena [in Macau, China] and now Suncorp Stadium,” Arum said in a statement Monday night. “We’re boxing’s version of Lewis & Clark, discovering new markets. Manny knows who will be the crowd favorite on July 1, but he can’t wait to give Australia and the world a great performance. It’s going to be an unbelievable event.”

A crowd of some 55,000 is expected to turn out for one of the biggest events in Australian boxing history. The fight will air on pay-per-view in Australia, but Arum said the television situation in the United States would be announced in the coming weeks.

Arum could do the fight on pay-per-view in the U.S., though given Pacquiao’s recent numbers that would be a tough sell, especially against an opponent wholly unknown in the U.S. Arum said he would talk to HBO about the possibility of a deal to have Pacquiao fight live on the network for the first time since a sixth-round knockout of Hector Velazquez in September 2005. The fight will take place on Sunday afternoon in Australia, which in the U.S. would be Saturday night, the usual time for boxing matches on HBO.

The government of the Australian state of Queensland is helping to bankroll the event and is heavily involved.

“After months of speculation, I am pleased to say we’re finally all in the ring for this fight to go ahead,” said Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. “Up to 55,000 boxing fans from across Australia and the world are expected to fill Suncorp Stadium to see the local teacher taking on one of the biggest names in boxing history on his home turf. We look forward to welcoming all those fans to Brisbane to experience all our city and state have to offer.

“The match is a highlight on the state’s major event calendar and is set to deliver an expected $15.8 million economic boost to the city.”

Said Kate Jones, minister for tourism and major events: “We’ve always said we’d be keen to host a boxing match of this caliber as long as it stacked up for Queensland taxpayers, so I’m pleased we’ve been able to reach a deal with all parties. Brisbane will be pumping as the nation gets behind our local champion Jeff Horn to see him take on the current welterweight world titleholder Manny Pacquiao. This blockbuster event will raise Queensland’s profile in many of our key international tourism markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, China and South East Asia.”

Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), the 38-year-old Filipino legend and only eight-division world titleholder in boxing history, regained the welterweight belt he lost by decision to Floyd Mayweather in their record-breaking 2015 fight when he easily outpointed Jessie Vargas in November.

Arum began pursuing the fight with Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), 29, a former school teacher and 2012 Olympian, shortly thereafter and it was initially targeted for April. But Pacquiao’s indifferent attitude toward facing an opponent he — and most everybody else — had never heard of led him to instead pursue a fight with British welterweight contender Amir Khan.

They had agreed to fight when Pacquiao and his adviser, Michael Koncz, thought they had a deal for $38 million from an unnamed investment group that wanted to put on the fight in the United Arab Emirates. But, as Arum always suspected, the money was not there to finalize the deal and it fell apart, leading the deal for the fight with Horn to be resurrected. Arum and Duco Events have close ties because they co-promote heavyweight world titleholder Joseph Parker.

Finally, the fighters signed their deals and the financing was in place. Then Top Rank signed off.

Dean Lonergan of Duco Events was happy to finally have everything set.

“The ‘Battle of Brisbane’ has taken a lot of effort from a big team of people working together to make this happen,” he said. “The negotiations have involved many people — from Bob Arum, Manny Pacquiao and the team at Top Rank, to the Queensland government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, Brisbane City Council, through Brisbane Marketing, and Suncorp Stadium, and to Jeff Horn and trainer Glenn Rushton.

“The patience, professionalism and vision of all parties to make this happen has been outstanding. Now let’s get on the business of filling Suncorp Stadium to watch Queensland’s best, Jeff Horn, being showcased to the world as he wins the ‘Battle of Brisbane’ and takes the WBO world welterweight title from one of boxing’s all-time greats.”

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