In Brief

‘Not afraid to die’: Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao leads from the front in coronavirus battle

The fighter-turned-senator has paid for 50,000 testing kits and 700,000 face masks in the Philippines

Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao says he is “not afraid to die” and will risk his health by leading from the front in the Philippines’s battle with coronavirus. 

The 41-year-old WBA super welterweight champion - who is also a senator in his home country - has paid for 50,000 testing kits, 700,000 face masks, and donated five buses to transport health workers in the capital city Manila. He is also touring the streets to boost people’s morale. 

The Manila Bulletin newspaper says Pacquiao “remains to be the most visible lawmaker” during the pandemic and the eight-division boxing champion insists he won’t lower his guard.

Pacquiao said: “If you are a leader, you have to be a front-liner. You have to lead people and let people see that you are with them. I grew up poor. I know what they feel.”

After defeating the previously unbeaten Keith Thurman in Las Vegas last year, Pacquiao had planned a return to the ring in July.

However, with boxing and sport shut down because of the virus, Pacquiao’s focus is now on public service rather than training for his next bout.

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Usyk eyes Joshua and Fury titles

Sky Sports reports that Ukrainian pound-for-pound star Oleksandr Usyk has vowed to break Britain’s dominance in the heavyweight division by taking the titles from Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.

Usyk, who is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt, is set to fight Derek Chisora on 23 May. But has already set his sights on the two champions.

He said: “I work hard on it. I want to fight both.” 

Joshua vs. Pulev could be moved

The coronavirus pandemic could see Anthony Joshua’s title fight against Kubrat Pulev moved to July.

Joshua is set to defend his WBA, WBO and IBF belts at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 20 June but promoter Eddie Hearn says alternative dates have been discussed in case of a postponement. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Hearn told Sky Sports: “We do have a potential date in July but, right now, we are hoping 20 June can remain the date. 

“We know we have the same strategy moving forward. Obviously the Premier League decision will play a big part in a number of sports.”

Today’s back pages

Flame flickers on Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Joe Cole says the Premier League should start from scratch

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