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Arum, Hearn battle for Pacquiao’s favor

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Manny Pacquiao listens intently as Top Rank chief Bob Arum stresses a point during their two-hour meeting in General Santos City on Friday. (Photo by Bren Evangelio)

Manny Pacquiao listens intently as Top Rank chief Bob Arum stresses a point during their two-hour meeting in General Santos City on Friday. (Photo by Bren Evangelio)

by Nick Giongco

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum arrived in General Santos City on a private plane Friday morning to discuss the future with Manny Pacquiao.

Though Arum had announced a few weeks ago that he was Manila-bound, his arrival came as a surprise for Pacquiao, who only got confirmation of the 86-year-old Top Rank chief’s visit Thursday night, according to Pacquiao’s Senate staffer Bren Evangelio, who met Arum at the airport.

Pacquiao is coming off a seventh-round stoppage of Argentine Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur and his solid performance convinced Arum and other promoters that the Filipino southpaw remains a top attraction.

Arum has two potential foes for Pacquiao, who is targeting a ring return in early December: Terence Crawford of the United States and Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine.

Aside from Crawford and Lomachenko, others on Pacquiao’s radar include Amir Khan of England, Keith Thurman of the US and American-born Puerto Rican Danny Garcia.

Arum’s arrival is timely since the UK media has reported that British promoter Eddie Hearn is holding talks to sign up Pacquiao to a promotional pact after Pacquiao’s contract with Arum’s outfit had already expired.

Hearn, who heads Matchroom, told Sporting News that Pacquiao, who turns 40 on Dec. 17, “is a huge name.”

While admitting that Pacquiao no longer is at his peak, Hearn nonetheless swoons over the eight-division champion.

“He’s undoubtedly towards the end of his career, but still a huge name. We’re talking with him,” added Hearn.

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