MANILA, MARCH 21, 2008
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Although Top Rank chairman Bob Arum has ruled out Macau as the site for Manny Pacquiao’s next fight, he said recently the bustling Chinese territory – billed as Asia ’s gambling capital – is still an option to host a future bout, possibly a showdown against newly crowned IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight champion Nate Campbell late this year.

But when Pacquiao is able to fight again remains up in the air as it is estimated his two cuts over the right eye from the Juan Manuel Marquez brawl in Las Vegas last weekend will take from at least six weeks to as long as eight to heal, requiring complete rest during the recuperation period. Plastic surgeon Dr. Jeff Roth sewed up the multi-layer cuts with 18 micro-stitches.

Only after the cuts heal will doctors permit Pacquiao to go back to the gym. And if he trains eight weeks like he did for Marquez, it’s likely his next fight will be in July or August.

Depending on the outcome of his next bout, Pacquiao could squeeze in another fight in November or December to achieve his target of three outings this year.

Even his next opponent isn’t a certainty. Golden Boy chief executive officer Richard Schaefer has offered a $6 million purse for Pacquiao to take on Marquez in a rematch of the rematch. If Arum agrees, it will be the third meeting between the archrivals.

Arum previously announced Pacquiao’s next opponent will be WBC lightweight titleholder David Diaz who said he’s ready to stake his crown against the Filipino icon despite an unimpressive win over Ramon Montano by majority decision last Saturday.

Pacquiao was earlier penciled in to meet Diaz in Macau but Arum said the venue has been switched to Mandalay Bay where the Filipino won over Marco Antonio Barrera and Marquez in his last two fights. Arum mentioned June 28 as the date for the bout but that was before Pacquiao suffered the cuts.

“Pacquiao’s fans are exactly the reason why Arum plans to make Pacquiao’s next fight at Mandalay Bay, specifically the two million Filipinos living in California who liven up the Las Vegas scene on weekends when Pacquiao is in town,” wrote Greg Beacham of Associated Press.

Arum was quoted by Beacham as saying, “the business that Manny brings in is right up their alley – it’s what they ( Mandalay Bay) want here and they really wanted to have the fight at the end of June.”

If Pacquiao is able to dethrone Diaz, Arum said he plans to pit the Filipino against Campbell in a unification lightweight title fight in Macau before the year ends. The bout will unify recognition of the 135-pound champion by the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO – the sport’s four most prestigious professional governing bodies.

Campbell, 36, upset Juan (Baby Bull) Diaz by split decision to wrest the WBA, IBF and WBO crowns in Cancun two weeks ago. The Jacksonville, Florida, native has a 32-5-1 record, with 25 KOs, and has been stopped twice by Australian Robbie Peden. Two of his defeats were by split decision. Campbell won his first 19 bouts and has swept his last four.

Arum said aside from Mandalay Bay’s interest in another Pacquiao fight this summer, logistical considerations eliminated Macau from contention as host.

“We still want to bring Manny (to Macau) very much but the timing just isn’t going to work for this summer,” said Arum quoted by Dan Rafael of “The fall will be a lot better. And Mandalay Bay really would like to have Manny back. He brings in a lot of Filipino customers.”

Arum said he has contacted Campbell’s co-promoter Don King on the possibility of a duel in Macau late this year.

“I know it’s a tough fight for Manny and there are a lot of bridges to cross before then but if Don and I can make that fight, it would be unbelievable,” continued Arum, quoted by Rafael. “Sure, it’s a tough fight for Manny but so what? When you’re fighting for all those belts, it’s supposed to be a tough fight.”

Arum and King collaborated in staging the “Thrilla In Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975.

“Don and I would love to work together again on a big fight,” said Arum. “We’ve been looking to get together again to do a fight because we always have a good time when we promote together even if we are the dinosaurs.”

If the fight is held in Macau, it will be hosted by the Venetian Hotel whose sprawling complex includes an indoor 13,000-seat arena.

Invading the lightweight division will be a major challenge for Pacquiao. If he fights in Las Vegas, the rule is he must wear 10-ounce gloves which will soften the impact of his blows. Pacquiao’s power carries full impact when he wears eight-ouncers, the gloves from superfeatherweight down under Nevada rules. Moving up to lightweight will also mean Pacquiao battling bigger opponents who may be able to withstand his power more than those in lower weight categories.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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