Filipino boxing legend and politician Manny Pacquiao flies into Grand Cayman on Friday afternoon for a whirlwind tour of the islands.
He will host the Island Rumble boxing night at the Truman Bodden stadium on Saturday, with organizers predicting a sell-out crowd of more than 4,000.
The eight-division world champion, widely regarded as one of the all-time greats of the sport, will attend a VIP night and weigh-in at the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort on Friday, participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for a new boxing gym in Bodden Town and visit Health City Cayman Islands on Saturday, and fly to the Brac for a brief visit before heading home Sunday afternoon.
Pacquiao touches down at Owen Roberts International Airport at 12:30 p.m. Friday and will immediately be sped to an official meet-and-greet at the Government Administration Building.
Event organizer Matthew Leslie anticipates large crowds at both the airport and the government building.
He said he is expecting a sell-out crowd for the main event, the Island Rumble, hosted by Mr. Pacquiao and involving multiple bouts, including an exhibition from current WBC and IBF Middleweight Champion Luis “Cuba” Arias.
Mr. Pacquiao, however, will not be lacing up his gloves for the event.
“The difference between Manny Pacquiao hosting and Manny Pacquiao fighting is about $20 million,” said Mr. Leslie.
Organizers have not revealed how much Mr. Pacquiao is being paid for the event. He is understood to command fees of around $1 million for such appearances.
The headline sponsor for the event, put on by Mr. Leslie’s promotions company Cayman Mardi Gras, is SDKA Securities, the Cayman Islands arm of SDKA International, a United Arab Emirates-based commodities dealer. Other key sponsors include Health City, Elite Marble and Granite, and the ministries of sports and tourism. Government’s dollar contribution to the event has not been publicly revealed.
“We are excited about the Island Rumble, which will take sports tourism in Cayman to another level,” he said. “We know of 600 people that are flying in for the event, and we are responsible for 140 VIPs that are coming in, where we are making arrangements for guests and their entourages.
There are a lot of big names coming in, as well as a lot of promoters who will be looking closely at this event and seeing what Cayman is capable of.
“Part of the reason we are doing this is to show the potential of the island to host these A-list events.”
The event will feature white-collar bouts for charity, as well as fights involving amateur boxers from Cayman, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the U.K. and the U.S.
General admission tickets for the Island Rumble, priced at $35, are on sale at Foster’s Food Fair stores, Jacques Scott stores, Caybrew (The Brewery), PoPo Jeb’s and from the Boxing Association.
Tickets will also be on sale at the gate for $50, depending on availability.