By Anthony Cocks
Global superstar Manny Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38) completed his whirlwind promotional tour of Australia last week ahead of his July clash with Brisbane’s Jeff Horn 16-0-1 (11), impressing local media with his laidback personality and good natured sense of humor.
Despite living under the glare of the media spotlight for the better part of a decade and a half, the WBO world welterweight champion still had some revelations for the press corps.
The eight-division world champion revealed that he has had premonitions about the outcomes of his fights in the days leading up to his bouts.
It all started with the last of his four fights against Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez when he dreamt that the fight would not be going the distance. It turned out to be Pacquiao who would be on the receiving end of the stoppage when he was knocked out cold in the sixth round of a fight he was leading.
“I am just confident that the Lord is telling me ahead of time,” Pacquiao, a staunch Catholic, said. “Jeff Horn is a nice guy. He is a friendly guy and a very respectful person. But he is competitive. His competitiveness in the ring is why I chose him. This is my first title defence since I captured the belt last November.
“I don’t predict my fights because I don’t like boasting or trash talk. I will do my best by God’s grace. My concern is to make the people happy, the fans. I don’t like fighters being arrogant or boastful. I don’t like trash talking. It is unschooled, not educated.”
The 38-year-old Filipino senator will be going for his 60th professional win at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, a rugby league venue that is expected to be configured to seat 55,000 people on 2nd July.
More than 30,000 tickets have already been sold to the event, which is being touted at the Battle of Brisbane, with more than a third of those ticket purchases coming from outside of Queensland. This puts the fight on target to surpass the record crowd of 38,000 people who witnessed the rematch between national hero Jeff Fenech and then reigning WBC super featherweight champion Azumah Nelson at Princess Park in Melbourne back in 1992.
A ticket to the event can be purchased for less than $40 with more than 25,000 seats expected to be priced at under $100.
For 29 year-old former schoolteacher Horn, this will be by far and away the biggest crowd he has ever fought in front of. For Pacquiao, it will be just another day at the office.
"I don’t think there’s a hometown advantage here,” said Pacquiao’s longtime adviser, Michael Koncz. “We’ll see on July 2 – I think the crowd will be favouring Manny. It’s going to be a great experience not only for us but the city. The rest of the world will see that.
"I think we’ll get a lot of offers to go to different countries once they see how successful this fight is going to be."
Canadian Koncz, who has worked for Pacquiao as a quasi-manager for than a decade, is adamant that Pacquiao’s days of fighting in the United States are over unless there is a massive financial windfall attached to the opportunity.
"We want to be ambassadors for boxing here,” said Koncz. “We don’t really plan on going back to America unless there’s a tremendous financial opportunity. Manny is one of the few boxers that can go from country to country."
QAMIL BALLA AND GEORGE KAMBOSOS SET TO STEAL THE SHOW ON JOSEPH PARKER VS RAZVAN COJANU UNDERCARD
Two of Australia’s leading lightweights will go head-to-head on Saturday night when Qamil “Golden Boy” Balla 11-0-1 (5) challenges world-rated “Ferocious” George Kambosos 11-0 (6) at the Vodafone Event Centre in Manukau City, New Zealand on the undercard of Kiwi Joseph Parker’s WBO world heavyweight title defence against US-based Romanian Razvan Cojanu.
Balla, from Altona North in Victoria, holds the rare distinction of beating Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent Jeff Horn in the amateurs and will be looking to put the first blemish on the 23 year-old Sydneysider’s ledger.
“This is a huge opportunity for me,’’ the 27-year-old Balla told the Courier Mail’s Grantlee Kieza this week. “Kambosos is a very strong counter-puncher but a win over him will really put me in a good place on the world scene.
“What Jeff Horn has done in getting a fight with Pacquiao is amazing. I beat Jeff in our first fight but he came back to beat me fair and square in the rematch. I thought our third fight at the Olympic trials was pretty close but Jeff got the decision.’’
Kambosos, ranked number 10 by the WBA at 135 pounds, is coming off a career best win over Perth’s Brandon Ogilvie.
The all-Aussie match-up is likely to steal the limelight after Parker’s original opponent Hughie Fury, cousin of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, withdrew from the fight ten days ago citing a back injury.
Undefeated middleweight Tim Tszyu 3-0 (2), son of former undisputed junior welterweight champion and Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, will face New Zealand-based Samoan Ivana Siau 3-6-1 (3) on the card.
Also on the card Las Vegas-based Russian Umar Salamov 18-0 (13) and Emil Markic 24-1 (19) from Bosnia and Herzegovina will battle it out for the vacant WBO International light heavyweight title.
The card will be televised live in Australia on Fox Sports Channel 505 from 5pm AEST on Saturday and on New Zealand Sky Arena in New Zealand. The card is a co-promotion between Duco Events and Top Rank.
ANTHONY MUNDINE FLAGS RETURN TO RUGBY LEAGUE AFTER 17 YEAR ABSENCE
Former two-time WBA super middleweight champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine 47-8 (27) has told the Australian Associated Press that he is considering a return to rugby league 17 years after turning his back on the sport to take up boxing.
The 41-year-old Mundine, who played five-eighth for the St George-Illawarra Dragons and represented Australia as an under 19 in the Junior Kangaroos team that defeated Great Britain in 1994, said that he still feels youthful enough to play the sport at the top level.
“If I can get anywhere up to the speed of what I used to be as a youngster, that could definitely be an option,” said Mundine, who will turn 42 later this month. “I want to do things that have never been done. I want to make it possible.”
After playing in the Dragons side that lost the 1999 NRL Grand Final to the Melbourne Storm, Mundine quit rugby league in the middle of the 2000 season to pursue a career in pugilism – the sport where his father, Tony Mundine Sr., famously made his name facing the likes of all-time great Argentinean middleweight Carlos Monzon, former welterweight and middleweight world champion Emile Griffith and perennial contenders Bennie Briscoe and Yaqui Lopez in a 96-fight pro career.
“I believe I am capable of it,” he said. “Obviously I would like to go back to the Dragons but I don’t know what their plans are. I will have to try and talk to them. But I am not really thinking of that right now. I just want to train my body and train my mind. I am doing the things I used to do, but I am just doing them better because I am wiser.”
Before any move back to rugby league Mundine says he wants to secure a third fight with arch-rival Danny Green, who scored a controversial majority points win over “Choc” in the rematch of their 2006 bout in Adelaide in February this year.
“I haven’t hung the gloves up totally yet,” Mundine said.
Mundine Sr. was quoted in the press this week as saying that a third fight between the two was “in the works” for Perth later this year.
“Choc was a bit unfortunate the last fight he had against Danny,” Mundine Sr. said at a fight night in Grafton in northern New South Wales. “He got a few tough decisions not go his way but that is alright. They are fighting again in Perth at the end of the year, it is in the works.”
Green was quick to nix the idea, telling WAtoday “it’s over”.
“He is a very lucky cat… Imagine the carnage it would have caused in pubs and clubs around the nation if the fight ended in him being disqualified?” said Green of the late shot in the first round that stiffened his legs and had him on Queer St.
"The media love controversy. In reality, the only controversy was his shocking cheap shot.
"I soldiered on and threw nearly double the punches, and landed more than he did... more importantly I landed more power punches, and was victorious in a very satisfying performance under such immense duress.
“I won. It’s over.”
STEVE WILLS RETURNS ON FRIDAY AS MIDDLEWEIGHT AGAINST ALEX AH TONG ON DRAGONFIRE PROMOTIONS CARD IN PERTH (ANGELO HYDER)
Former 140-pounder Steve “The Surgeon” Wills 18-2-2 (9) returns to the ring after a five year hiatus when he takes on fellow southpaw Alex Ah Tong 9-37-5 (5) in a six round bout at Metro City in Northbridge, Western Australia on Friday night.
The fight will headline a stacked Angelo Hyder promotion featuring a total of 13 bouts, eleven of which will be four rounders. These types of events have become popular of late with Team Ellis tapping into the public’s desire for fast-paced fights across the continent in Melbourne.
Wills last fought in May 2015 when he outpointed Thailand’s Natthakan Thonglat over six rounds at the WA Italian Club in Perth. His last bout prior to that was against a third-round KO loss to current WBA #4 junior welterweight Czar Amonsot at the Melbourne Pavilion in September 2013 for the vacant PABA title.
The only other loss on Wills’ record came against Kaizer Mabuza in Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa for the vacant IBO world super lightweight title in 2012.
Wills hold a victory over popular Novocastrian Chad “Hollywood” Bennett, who was once rated in the top ten by both the WBA and WBO.
The other six rounder on the card will feature Glen Austin 4-0 (1) against veteran Jeremy Allan 13-12-4 (4) in a cruiserweight clash.