MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon turned senator Manny Pacquiao announced on Sunday that his supposed rematch against Jeff Horn will not push through in Australia, after weeks of conflicting reports.
It was initially reported mid-August that the Pacquiao-Horn rematch will take place in Australia later this year, after Horn booked a massive upset of the "Pacman" last July 2 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
In a twist, however, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said two weeks ago that Pacquiao will instead fight Horn at the Philippine Arena in December, a statement that surprised Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum.
Eventually, Horn's camp announced that the rematch will not push through this year, which Pacquiao confirmed in an interview on radio DZBB on Sunday.
"It will not push through there in Australia," Pacquiao was quoted as saying.
However, Pacquiao is not entirely giving up on a rematch with Horn.
"We are bringing the fight here in the Philippines," he said. "This will be good for our country's tourism."
Pacquiao did not specify when he plans to fight Horn again, although the Australian's camp claimed that Pacquiao has promised to challenge Horn in a rematch next year.
If Pacquiao does wind up fighting Horn in the Philippines, it will be the first time that he has fought at home since July 2, 2006, when he outpointed Oscar Larios at the Araneta Coliseum in a super featherweight bout.
There should be no issues about hosting the fight, according to the "Pacman."
"We have lots of friends who are supporting us including our Tourism (department). The President (Rodrigo Duterte) is giving his all-out support," Pacquiao said.
The loss to Horn had snapped a two-fight winning streak for Pacquiao, who retired briefly following an April 2016 win over Timothy Bradley Jr. to focus on his political career. He quickly made a comeback, however, defeating Jessie Vargas in November 2016 to reclaim the WBO welterweight belt.
He lost that same belt to the 29-year-old Horn in a massive upset, but has so far refused to hang up his gloves for good despite requests from his family and his trainer, Freddie Roach. – With report from Agence France-Presse
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)