Pacquiao heading to World Champs

Manny Pacquiao is to attend the World Boxing Championships in Doha later this week, following a personal invitation from the head of the tournament’s governing body, it was announced on Tuesday.

Ching-Kuo Wu, president of AIBA, said he had personally asked the Philippine boxing hero to attend the 10-day event and said it was the first time such a big name would visit the championships.

“Manny Pacquiao is a personal friend and I have invited him to come,” Wu told reporters ahead of the tournament’s first bouts.

“He’s never been to the World Championships and I said ‘come and have a look’.”

“This is the benchmark for future World Championships and I am pleased that Manny Pacquiao accepted my invitation to come and share his thoughts and ideas first hand.”

The 36-year-old Pacquiao is expected to watch the afternoon session of fights on Thursday.

Earlier this week he announced plans to run for a post in the influential Philippine Senate.

His visit could prompt many spectators from Qatar’s 200 000-strong population to the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, Doha, where the event is being held.

Pacquiao’s potential next opponent, Britain’s Amir Khan, is also expected in Qatar to do media work, but not at the same time as the Filipino.

Fighting in the world championships got under way on Tuesday.

Among the early winners were Vanuatu’s hard-hitting Boe Warawara whose clean hits removed the mouth guard of opponent Yakub Meredov on four occasions.

Morocco’s Abdelhak Aatakni survived the first knockdown of the tournament to outpoint India’s Manoj Kumar and Britain’s Pat McCormack won a feisty encounter with Moldova’s Dimitri Galagot.

Almost 250 boxers from some 70 countries are competing at the event across 10 weight categories.

At stake is not only the chance to win a world title but also 23 qualifying spots for the Rio Olympics next year.

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