GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Team Pacquiao is leaving Monday, November 18, on a chartered flight to Macau where he faces the acid test of proving he still has what it takes to become a world boxing champion again.
Manny Pacquiao will be shaking off an 11-month layoff when he faces hard-punching American Brandon Rios on Sunday morning, November 24, at the Cotai Arena of the posh The Venetian Hotel.
Pacquiao last fought in December 2012, suffering a heartbreaking knockout loss to perennial nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.
It was the second consecutive loss for Pacquiao as he likewise dropped a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley in June last year.
Pacquiao was earlier slated to make his grand entrance at the The Venetian on Tuesday, November 19, but decided to arrive a day earlier.
The chartered flight, which is scheduled to leave General Santos City at 3 pm, will make a brief stopover in Manila to accommodate other members of Team Pacquiao. The flight will have 90-person Team Pacquiao contingent.
One prominent member of Team Pacquiao will not make it to the fight.
Longtime lawyer Franklin Gacal Jr suffered a stroke more than a week ago that also brought concerns from the fighting congressman from Sarangani.
He will also carry the load of the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Eastern Visayas.
Pacquiao is dedicating his fight to the victims of Yolanda and is scheduled to visit the typhoon-ravaged province of Tacloban on December 12.
But before that, he promised his friend Gacal to drop by for a visit when he returns from Macau after his fight on November 25. He is recuperating at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
Pacquiao will be making his 62nd professional fight, having won 54 of them – 31 via stoppage. He has lost 5 and drawn 2 in a professional career career that started in 1995 covering 371 rounds.
Despite the two losses last year, Pacquiao is still the favorite against Rios who is debuting as a welterweight and is also coming off a loss.
While not looking past Rios, Pacquiao said he wants to be more active in the ring next year and is already looking at an Apriil ring date. – Rappler.com
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