Abu Dhabi

Michael Koncz, adviser to Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, sensationally announced yesterday that the eight-division world champion’s next fight will “100 per cent” be held in the UAE against 28-year-old Australian Jeff Horn.

Speaking about the fight which was expected to be held in Brisbane, Australia, Koncz apologised to the Australian government and the fans there for the last-minute change in plans.

“It took us a while to get this deal together,” he said in Abu Dhabi yesterday. “There was a lot of confusion whether this is going to happen here in the UAE.

“[But] I’m here with full authority and power. I have been the marriage counsellor for Manny and we have developed a relationship. I’m involved in all aspects of what he does.

“We have executed the agreement in the morning and 100 per cent the fight will he here in the UAE,” Koncz added with a word of caution that you “can’t believe” everything that you read on the internet.

Earlier, Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s top ranked promoter, claimed that he has reached an agreement with Horn’s promoter, Duco Events, for Pacquiao to defend his WBO welterweight title against the unbeaten Australian boxer in Australia.

“Yes, there was news of the fight in Australia,” acknowledged Koncz. “The way we operate, I would say I’m transparent and I’m an honest guy. If you try to manipulate a situation you have to remember what you say, but if you say the truth you have to remember nothing.

“I was aware that Bob was talking in Australia about hosting the fight there but it is fine with us,” said Koncz stressing that it was only because the deal in the UAE was not through at the time. I told Bob to go ahead but don’t close it,” he said. “When Bob said it will happen there I asked him what you are talking about? A promoter works for the boxer but the boxer doesn’t work for the promoter.

“We have had a successful bond with him but Manny is the boss. I told him why are you speaking to the media when it is just a backup plan,” Koncz, said adding that Arum later informed the media that the UAE was also a possible venue.

“I don’t have control over what Bob says, he talks a lot of stuff and I apologise to the people of Australia, their government there for all the confusion and also the fans here in the UAE.

Koncz admitted that the controversy of the fight venue between Australia and the UAE was “good publicity and what sells the sport”.

Al Afag tourism CEO Diaa Al Khatib whose event management wing will be handling the event, said: “We tried our best to finalise the deal for a year now and we are happy that it is through. “Where it will be held, Dubai or Abu Dhabi, will be announced in a couple of weeks and Pacquiao will be there.”

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