SEOUL, South Korea — The stage is all set for Manny Pacquiao’s ring return on Sunday noon (Saturday night in the United States), his first in 16 months.
Though Pacquiao won’t be boxing an official bout when he locks horns with Korean mixed martial arts expert DK Yoo at the KINTEX in the neighboring city of Goyang, it remains a high-profile event given the Filipino star’s lofty stature.
The two southpaws will fight for six two-minute rounds since it is an exhibition but Pacquiao and Yoo are not treating their meeting as a glorified sparring session.
Not at all.
Since arriving here earlier in the week, the 43-year-old eight-division champion has been training diligently under the watchful eyes of his local trainers.
Last time he fought, Pacquiao was stunned by Cuban Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas.
Like Pacquiao, Yoo is not leaving any stone unturned in his stab for stardom.
In fact, Yoo feels that his vast background in MMA will propel him to the most sensational win of his career.
“I am going to be faster,” Yoo said.
Based on training videos that have been posted online, Yoo is expected to lean heavily on his lightning-quick right hand, a weapon he has been showing off when sparring.
To ensure that he doesn’t fall into a trap being set up by his Korean rival, Pacquiao is digging deep as well knowing that Yoo is not a soju-loving drunkard from Gangnam or Itaewon called in to fight.
To spice things up, Pacquiao and Yoo are scheduled to come face-to-face in a press conference scheduled Friday.
On Saturday, the official weighing will be held.
Parts of the proceeds of this special fight will go to Pacquiao’s housing project in his hometown of Sarangani. Also getting funding from the Pacquiao-Yoo scuffle are the people of Ukraine.
Last Wednesday, Pacquiao dropped by the site where 158 people were killed during a crowd crush while celebrating Halloween.
Pacquiao placed a bouquet as a sign of respect and he was joined by his staff and even MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons.
“It was a solemn visit,” Gibbons said, noting that there was a sizable crowd that witnessed Pacquiao’s visit.
A light gym workout for Pacquiao had been scheduled Thursday night, added Gibbons.