Manny Pacquiao, the boxing legend, politician and most famous man in the Philippines, is coming to the Cayman Islands in January to host the Island Rumble boxing event.

The multiple world champion will be involved in a boxing exhibition as part of a nine-fight card at Camana Bay’s Festival Green on Jan. 7.

The multiple world champion will be involved in a boxing exhibition as part of a nine-fight card at Camana Bay’s Festival Green on Jan. 7.

He will also visit Health City Cayman Islands and take part in a groundbreaking event for a new boxing gym in Bodden Town during his visit.

Promoter Matthew Leslie made the announcement alongside sponsors that included Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell and Gurps Singh Rai of Dubai-based commodities traders SDKA International, which recently set up a business in Cayman and is the title sponsor of the event.

U.S. middleweight contender Luis “Cuba” Arias and amateur boxers from Cayman, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, U.S. and the Philippines will take part in the event, which Mr. Leslie said would also feature other sports and entertainment celebrities.

Mr. Leslie said, “This will be one of the largest, most exposed events in the Cayman Islands. We are expecting a massive crowd of local and international spectators and celebrities.

“Sports tourism has been building in Cayman and we want to take it to the next level.”

He said negotiations had been taking place for around a year with everything falling into place in the last few weeks.

Sports Minister Mr. Bodden said the fight night, on the heels of sprinter Usain Bolt’s appearance at the Cayman Invitational track meet last year, would be one of the most high-profile events held on the island in recent memory.

“Universally recognized as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Manny Pacquiao, boxer and politician, will be a huge draw, particularly for our Filipino community.

“We are glad to show that we continue to punch above our weight in attracting the brightest and best of the sports world to Cayman,” Mr. Bodden said. Ann Marie Byrd, president of the Cayman Islands Amateur Boxing Association, said the event would be a huge opportunity for its members.

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden and event promotor Matthew Leslie spar as they announce Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming visit. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden and event promotor Matthew Leslie spar as they announce Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming visit. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

“This is going to be such an inspiration to our kids, to be able to get in the ring with someone like Manny Pacquiao. We have 16 and 17 year olds that will be fighting on the card that night. Words can’t express how important this is for them.”

A new ring and equipment will be shipped in for the event by SDKA International. Mr. Rai, chairman of the company, said it had recently expanded into the Cayman Islands and was excited to be involved.

“We believe in human elevation,” he said. “Being a part of this and the gym is a way for people to escape from their regular daily lives.”

Tourism Minister Kirkconnell said the event would help boost tourist arrivals amid a slight slowdown after Christmas. He said it would also create a buzz around the Cayman Islands that will put the islands on the radar internationally.

The ring and equipment will stay in Cayman after the event, at the new gym, which is being built next to Bodden Town Civic Centre.

Mr. Bodden said a planning application for the facility would be submitted before Christmas to enable a groundbreaking ceremony during Pacquiao’s visit. He will also make an appearance on the Brac and at Health City, which is a sponsor of the event.

Pacquiao, 37, came out of retirement to reclaim his welterweight title earlier this month. He is the first boxer to win world titles in eight different divisions. He also serves as a senator in the Philippines.

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