Manny Pacquiao has landed in Bangkok. The Filipino boxer turned senator is in town to promote his upcoming fight with local favourite Buakaw Banchamek.
A press conference is scheduled for this afternoon at Icon Siam, an upmarket shopping mall in Bangkok. It is the first time that Pacquiao has visited the country in 18 years.
His last fight in Thailand was in 1999. Pacquiao was stopped by Medgoen Singsurat in the third round of their WBC flyweight fight in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The Filipino might have already been a world champion when he made that trip but he was neither famous nor wealthy. As he flies in to announce an exhibition boxing match with Buakaw in January that has all changed.
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Pacquiao’s net worth is an estimated at nearly 250 million USD. He has won world titles in eight different weight classes, a feat that is unlikely to ever be replicated.
Last year Pacquiao stood for presidential elections in the Philippines although he finished a distant third. He remains a senator there and officially retired from boxing in order to focus on his political career.
But last year Pacquiao returned to the ring for an exhibition match with Korean YouTuber DK Yoo. His next bout looks set to be much bigger than that as the 44 year old is facing one of the most recognizable Thai fighters in the world.
Buakaw is a household name in Thailand. He is four years younger than Pacquiao but has never competed in boxing, so the odds are stacked in the Filipino’s favour.
We will have to wait for this afternoon’s press conference to find out exactly what the format of the fight is. But Pacquiao’s last exhibition match, which he cruised through with relative ease, was an eight rounder.
Buakaw has his own camp in Chiang Mai and various media commitments. But he remains a full time fighter who will presumably dedicate himself to boxing in order to prepare for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is still in good shape despite being a full time politician. He clearly enjoys being back in the gym and will be relishing the opportunity to showcase the skills that won him 12 titles during his professional boxing career.