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Pacquiao awaits what could be his last fight

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao was sitting on a couch, talking about his dreams.

Good ones and bad, like the one he had a month before fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I dreamed I lost the fight, but in my dream I also saw there was a problem,” Pacquiao said. “It happened exactly like my dream.”

A lot of boxing fans might have wished Pacquiao had disclosed his dreams before last May’s megafight. They could have saved themselves thousands of dollars for a ticket or $100 to watch at home on pay-per-view in boxing’s richest fight.

Instead they paid to see a ho-hum fight won by Mayweather, quickly followed by an excuse from Pacquiao. In the fourth round he reinjured a shoulder no one outside his camp knew was injured, Pacquiao said, leading to his defeat.

In all it was huge letdown for almost everyone involved. What was billed as one of the greatest matchups in recent years was a snoozer that looked little different from any other Mayweather fight.

Now Pacquiao returns nearly a year later for a welterweight fight with Timothy Bradley that even promoter Bob Arum is having difficulty figuring out how to sell. The two meet in a rubber match of their three-fight series Saturday night, and once again Arum wants fight fans to dig into their pockets for what could be Pacquiao’s final pay-per-view fight.

Arum has jumped in the middle of Pacquiao’s derogatory comments about gays, calling them outrageous while defending the fighter himself. He’s put together a “No Trump” undercard of Hispanic fighters and tried to market the fight as a clash between longtime Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach and new Bradley trainer Teddy Atlas.

But even a promoter of Arum’s stature – he’s celebrating his 50th year in boxing this month – can do only so much. The first two fights between Pacquiao and Bradley weren’t terribly memorable, and boxing fans may still be suffering a hangover from the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

While his fight with Mayweather generated 4.4 million buys, this one will struggle to do the 700,000 Arum is predicting, even at a lower price. There are also still tickets available at the MGM Grand box office, also a lot cheaper than the Mayweather fight.

Still, there’s a good chance this will be Pacquiao’s last fight, the final time we’ll see the remarkable Filipino who started boxing in the ring at age 12. He’s running for Senate in the Philippines, and if he wins he’ll have a full-time job that would leave little time for training.

He runs hot and cold about leaving boxing, though, and there is the alluring prospect of another big payday or two if he is impressive against Bradley.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Pacquiao said. “I haven’t been there. I don’t know the feeling of being there. But I’m OK with that (retirement).”

If Pacquiao does retire it won’t be because he’s taken too many punches in 65 fights over the last 21 years. He still has his mental faculties, as evidenced by a command of English that gets better every fight, and feels fresh after taking nearly a year off to relax and repair his shoulder.

But he’s getting pressure from his wife to stop boxing, and wants to transition from being a congressman to a senator and, perhaps in the future, make a run for the presidency.

“It’ not about being tired of boxing,” Pacquiao said. “It’s about the advice of my family.”

Even with the loss to Mayweather in a fight that paid him more than $100 million, Pacquiao would seem to have little left to prove in the ring. He won his first title 18 years ago at 112 pounds and added seven others in the years in between as he transformed from scrappy fighter to boxing superstar.

He also claims to have some money still left after years of buying cars, houses and providing for the needs of a lot of his countrymen.

“I’m OK, I’m OK,” Pacquiao said about his finances.

Sitting on the couch in a VIP room at the MGM Grand a few days before his fight with Bradley, Pacquiao seemed at peace with both his life and career. He laughed easily, tried his best to explain contradictions in when exactly his shoulder was hurt (he now claims 2009) and talked about how moving up in weight had taken away some of his knockout power.

He also talked about his dreams, including the one that came to him before the Mayweather fight that he would lose. There have been no dreams about this fight, Pacquiao said, although Roach was quick to offer one of his own.

“I dreamed that he wins this fight by a knockout,” Roach said.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Manny Pacquiao loses WBO welterweight title on points to Jeff Horn

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight world title to Jeff Horn in a stunning, unanimous points decision in a Sunday afternoon bout billed as the Battle of Brisbane in front of more than 50,000 people.

The 11-time world champion entered the fight at Suncorp Stadium as a hot favorite but got more than he bargained for against the 29-year-old former schoolteacher.

Still, Pacquiao dominated the later rounds and the result could have gone his way.

Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach predicted the fight would be short and sweet but Horn – unbeaten in his 17 previous professional fights – applied pressure by winning some of the early rounds and Pacquiao needed treatment during the 6th and 7th rounds for a cut on the top of his head that resulted from a clash of heads.

The judges scored the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113, with Horn immediately calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr., after the fight, declaring himself “no joke.”

Roach had said earlier in the week that he’d think about advising Pacquioa to retire if he lost the fight, but that would depend on how he fought.

Pacquiao’s camp had talked about a rematch with Mayweather if he got past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in the 2015 mega fight. That seems to be a distant chance now.

Pacquiao, who entered the fight with a record of 59-6-2, 38 knockouts, was defending the WBO title he won on points against Jessie Vargas last November.

Mayweather vs. McGregor odds: Sportsbooks set betting lines, props for fight

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stand to collect a massive payday whether their superfight is a charade or a combat sports classic, and there’s plenty of upside for bettors too.

With the bout set, Mayweather is a -600 moneyline favorite against the +400 underdog McGregor at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.  Mayweather will put a 49-0 ring record on the line in the August 26 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, while McGregor, a UFC champion at two weights, might prove a point just by having a decent showing.

The moneyline has tightened considerably since the first rumors about the fight. Last November, Mayweather opened at -2250 and McGregor opened at +950. Evidently, many MMA fans found McGregor irresistible at that price, as it steadily dropped, falling to +450 by late April. That was also the point where the moneyline on ‘Money’ came down to -700.

The over/under on rounds is 9.5. A 10-round fight is uncharted waters for McGregor, but 13 of Mayweather’s last 14 fights have gone at least 10 rounds. Twelve have gone the full 12 rounds; the Mayweather-McGregor betting odds on whether the fight goes the distance pays +125 if it does, and -175 if it’s stopped early.

McGregor also pays +120 if he wins by decision, which is the standard outcome for his bouts against full-time boxers. McGregor’s method-of-victory props include +700 for a knockout and +3300 for victory by decision.

There is little in the way of past performance to go on here, since McGregor hasn’t boxed since he was a teenager in Ireland. Mayweather’s defensive skills should allow him to parry any early onslaught from McGregor, who is a knockout artist in the UFC octagon and rarely has fights go more than two rounds.

The round prices offer the most potential profit for Mayweather backers. One can assume that the skilled defensive fighter might dance around while McGregor goes out hard. It might be prudent to scale down expectations of a quick finish – +3300 for Mayweather winning in Round 1, +2500 for Round 2 – and look at the slightly later rounds. Rounds 4 through 6 are listed at +1600 and +1400.

While Mayweather’s round prices trace a reverse parabola, McGregor’s round prices are relatively stable. The Irishman offers +4000 for a win in Round 1, or each one from Rounds 4-7. There is a slight drop to +3300 for both Round 2 and 3.

Another way to bet on the Mayweather-McGregor fight is the 4.99 million total for pay-per-view buys. The over hitting would require beating the audience for Mayweather’s 2015 fight against Manny Pacquaio (4.6 million). McGregor also holds the UFC’s PPV record of 1.65 million, set at UFC 202 in August 2016

With boxing and MMA fans creating a larger fanbase and the event being scheduled for the dog days of late August – before the NFL and college football blot out everything else on the sports landscape – 5 million buys seems doable.