Let the Manny Pacquiao world tour begin.
In what Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN on Tuesday night could be the first in a series of overseas fights for Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino legend will defend his welterweight world title against Australia's Jeff Horn on April 22.
Arum met Tuesday in Las Vegas with Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, with whom he became promotional partners on newly crowned heavyweight world titleholder Joseph Parker and other boxers in the Duco stable last month, and came to an agreement on the bout.
"Horn and his management have agreed on the purse and now we're working on a site," Arum said. "We'll know the location of the fight in the next few days."
Arum said the fight will take place at one of various sites in Australia under consideration or in the United Arab Emirates -- Dubai or Abu Dhabi -- where Arum said there are offers.
"Once we have a location then I'll fly over to the Philippines to meet with Manny and finalize everything on our side," Arum said. "But he is going to fight Jeff Horn."
When Arum traveled to Auckland, New Zealand, to co-promote Parker's decision victory against Andy Ruiz Jr. to win a vacant heavyweight world title on Dec. 10 he cut a deal with Duco Events to become Parker's co-promoter, but also gained certain rights to its other fighters, including the 28-year-old Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), a 2012 Australian Olympian who impressed Arum in a sixth-round knockout of Ali Funeka on the undercard.
"I thought he was a really rugged guy. He's a good fighter," Arum said. "Does he beat Manny? Probably not, but he's going to give him a good fight. He has a very pleasing personality."
Initially, Arum said he wanted to bring Horn to the United States and match him with either Timothy Bradley Jr. or Jessie Vargas, both former welterweight world titleholders he promotes, with the idea that if Horn beat one of them he would then make a fight with Pacquiao later in 2017.
But "the Aussies wanted to do the fight right away and the people in the Middle East [in the UAE] find him acceptable as an opponent for Manny, so why crap around with putting him in with a Vargas or Bradley?" Arum said. "Why? Maybe it will enhance the number of pay-per-view buys in the United States? Maybe it won't. Maybe the fight won't even be a pay-per-view in the United States. Why screw around with bringing him to the United States and fighting Bradley and Vargas? Why? Where? HBO has no money.
"There really wasn't any incentive [to go after a bigger name]. Horn was a good enough opponent and the only way we would have switched is if there was more money to be made with someone else, like if we went to the Middle East and fought Amir Khan. We spoke to Khan and he told us he wouldn't be available to fight Manny until November [because he is coming off an injury] and wanted a tuneup fight."
Horn is thrilled to be picked for the fight.
"I am excited about the prospect of facing a legend in Manny Pacquiao," Horn told ESPN. "I know a lot of people in America don't know too much about me, but after [April 22] they most certainly will."
Arum said since most major fights from the U.S. are televised on Sunday afternoons in Australia, Pacquiao-Horn would take place on a Sunday afternoon if the fight is there, which would put it in prime time on Saturday night in the United States, the usual time for major fights.
"But U.S. pay-per-view is a minor consideration," Arum said. "I would hope to sell it to free television whether to [subscription-based] HBO or a terrestrial network. What we're waiting on is there are various regions in Australia and they're all bidding on the fight and tourist boards are putting up money and there are sponsorships. What we can get from that will determine how viable it is to do the fight in Australia and where we do it in Australia."
He said Pacquiao's purse demands are reasonable enough that he can afford to do the fight without needing big American pay-per-view numbers to make the deal work.
The fight would be pay-per-view in Australia because "Horn in that part of the world is a pretty good name," Arum said.
Because Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) now serves in the senate in the Philippines, he is limited to boxing only during a recess, so Arum is building his schedule around that. There is a recess, Arum said, that runs from late March through early May, making April 22 an ideal fight date.
"My goal is to have Pacquiao fight as many times as we can get away from the senate duties as possible," Arum said. "So the idea is if he fights in April and he stays in boxing shape we can fight perhaps again in July. We have an offer in Russia. And then we have an offer and would be interested in fighting [fellow welterweight titleholder] Kell Brook in England in probably October. That's a big fight.
"We did world tours with Muhammad Ali and that's what I'm going to do with Manny. It's good for him to fight all over. He might be president of the Philippines someday and fighting around the world is good for that possibility."
Another reason for taking the show on the road is because Pacquiao's pay-per-view numbers have dropped off in recent years in the United States other than his record-shattering mega fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2015. And now that he is in the senate, Arum said Pacquiao -- who has fought twice in Macau, China (once in 2013 and once in 2014) -- does not have the luxury of training in the U.S. and generating publicity with media appearances.
Pacquiao, 38, boxing's only eight-division world titleholder, ended a brief retirement on Nov. 5 and outpointed Vargas to reclaim a welterweight world title in a dominant performance. It was his second win in a row since losing to Mayweather.