BOXING royalty arrived in Australia today as Manny Pacquiao begins his promotional tour for his fight with Jeff Horn.
The eight division titleholder made a brief appearance at Brisbane Airport on Monday afternoon, greeting an enthusiastic media gathering before making a prompt exit. The 38-year-old gave little in terms of dialogue, offering only a brief message for his Brisbane-based counterpart.
“My message for him is to work hard,” quipped Pacquiao. “Make sure you’re one hundred per cent conditioned on July 2 so we can give a good fight, we can entertain people.”
The majority of the heavy lifting was done by event promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, who was at his buoyant best having secured the elusive signature of the legendary Filipino.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Lonergan to Fox Sports. “This will be the biggest event that our company has done. We’re expecting over 55,000 people to turn up at Suncorp and tickets go on sale this Thursday.”
“With Manny being in the country – there was a great media turnout – this is going to be something sensational for all Australians to enjoy. Get behind a great Australian fighter who is incredibly tough and at the back end of this, Jeff Horn is going to become a legend.”
Lonergan went as far as to say that the July 2nd bout was the second biggest to take place in the sport for the calendar year.
“This will be the second biggest fight in the world this year, only behind Joshua versus Klitschko, which is happening this Sunday. So that’s a pretty cool thing to be doing, right here in Australia.”
With tickets being released later in the week, Lonergan went on record stating that his companies previous biggest event between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz last year, paled in comparison when looking at potential ticket sales.
“Last year we promoted the Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz world title fight. Already, this event has surpassed that in terms of sales,” he explained. “It will be one of the most special moments in Australian sport.”
“Manny Pacquiao is the only person ever in boxing to become an eight division world champion,” he added. “He’s definitely going to the Hall of Fame on first ballot, and he’s probably the highest-profile athlete competing in the sport today. This is special.”
Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) will be a firm underdog against Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) by the time the pair square off at Suncorp Stadium. However, Lonergan did offer some famous last words to those within Pacquiao’s team who expect little resistance from the undefeated former school teacher.
“I sincerely hope they keep thinking that way,” he concluded. “Because if they do, on July 2 there will be one hell of an upset and Australians are going to have something very proud to celebrate.”
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images