Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao expressed his desire to fight in Dubai upon arrival in the UAE to a warm welcome on Monday evening.
Pacquiao will be the star attraction at the PBC 2016 where he will lead Mahindra Enforcers as player-coach in the event organised by the Clique Events CO, the Official Overseas Game Organiser of PBA in UAE, in collaboration with the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), and Du as the main presenter.
"I'd love to fight in Dubai," declared Pacquiao, 36, who is planning to fight one more time next year before focussing on his political career.
The eight-division world champion said he would like to fight "anybody" but was eager for a rematch with unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather who won the May 2 'Fight of the Century' in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao is fighting fit and raring to go after undergoing surgery on a torn rotator cuff on his right shoulder soon after his loss to Mayweather.
Asked whether he would like to fight British fighter Amir Khan, Pacman said: "I don't know. I'm hoping to have a rematch with him (Mayweather). It depends on negotiations. We are working on that next fight," said Pacquiao who also named Daniel Garcia and Terence Crawford as possible opponents.
Pacquiao was overwhelmed by the reception he received on his arrival.
"I'm surprised because they know me here. I want to fight here," reiterated Pacquiao who looked calm despite being shepherded by a ring of security officials.
"I feel so happy to be here in Dubai. This is my first time here. Thank you for the warm welcome, especially to the Filipino people here in Dubai... thank you," said Pacquiao obliging fans eager to take selfies with the boxing legend.
"I'm here for a few days. I will go round and see the beauty of Dubai, meet the Filipino people and play basketball," said Pacquiao when asked whether he would be discussing fight plans with officials in Dubai.
"Definitely we are happy to see him for the first time in Dubai. He is one of the biggest names in the sport. There are a lot of celebrities who visit Dubai. He is one of the biggest celebrities," said Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC after receiving him at the VIP Lounge of Al Majlis at Dubai Airport's Terminal 3.
"Usually we have football celebrities like (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (David) Beckham. Today we have a boxing world champion. He is a superstar and a big brand name in boxing," added Hareb.
Asked why Pacquiao was accorded VIP status, Manager of Sports Events at DSC, Rashid Al Kamali said: "He is a great man. He is a legend. That's why we love to see him around and his fans are great. We have a big population of Filipinos in the UAE and they love to see him."
Al Kamali said Dubai is the best place to Pacquiao's next fight because his popularity transcends the Filipino community.
"His population (Filipinos), popularity and also the Arab fans love him as well. That's another bonus. So, why not in Dubai," said Al Kamali who 'wished' Pacquiao would fight in Dubai before he hangs up his gloves.
The Mahindra Enforcers, Alaska Aces and Barangay Ginebra, considered among the best basketball teams in the Philippines, are expected to draw huge crowds of Filipino basketball enthusiasts on November 6 and 7 at Al Wasl Sports Club.
On his first official visit to the UAE, Pacquiao is making a stop to meet fans at the Du Shop in Dubai Mall on Wednesday November 4 at 4pm.
The Filipino ring icon will also inaugurate a GO Sports Store at the Mall of the Emirates on Thursday November 5 situated on the third floor.
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