By NICK GIONGCO
LOS ANGELES – Manny Pacquiao wants to close out his career in the place where he scored his biggest triumphs as well as his biggest heartaches.
“I love Las Vegas,” said Pacquiao, still fresh from getting back at Tim Bradley in their recent world welterweight title showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao was clearly overwhelmed by the reception that he received when he made his first fight in Sin City in over one year.
The last time he fought in Las Vegas, Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 and his comeback bout had to be brought to Macau in November 2013 versus Brandon Rios.
“I love it over there,” said the 35-year-old eight-division champion, whose win over Bradley fight on US soil and 16th in Las Vegas stretching back to June 2001 when he made his American debut.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, whose promotional outfit Top Rank has Pacquiao under its banner, said Macau has already expressed its desire to host Pacquiao a second time.
Arum said recently in Las Vegas that “money is just secondary for Macau” as the former Portuguese colony wants to be known as a place where people would like to be seen.
The Rolling Stones performed there recently and Arum said the “people at The Venetian” are determined to host a Pacquiao headliner in November, the date where Arum expects Pacquiao to resurface.
While Macau gave Pacquiao a royal welcome during the Rios fight, nothing compares to the electric atmosphere of a Las Vegas fight scene, something that has apparently caught the fancy of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s next fight—the name of the opponent, exact date and location—will start to take shape after the mouth-watering matchup between Marquez and Mike Alvarado set to take place on May 17 at The Forum in nearby Inglewood.
Although Pacquiao has also fought in some other key US cities, including here in 2003 and 2005, and in Dallas and San Antonio in Texas, Memphis and San Francisco, it was in Las Vegas where he recorded his greatest hits.
It was in Las Vegas where Pacquiao handed the retirement papers to Oscar Dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton and where he also figured in an unforgettable clash with Miguel Cotto and the thrilling trilogy with Erik Morales and the four faceoffs with Marquez.
But it wasn’t all happy times for Pacquiao as it was also there where he suffered the most devastating defeat of his legendary career: the sixth-round smackdown Marquez inflicted on him in 2012.