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November 27, 2014

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Why Manny Pacquiao is coming back to Las Vegas

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Chris Farina - Top Rank

Manny Pacquiao wins a 12-round unanimous decision over Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios at the Venetian Macao Resort in Macau, China, on Nov. 24, 2013.

Bradley Defeats Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao punches at Timothy Bradley Jr. during their WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Bradley won a controversial split decision. Launch slideshow »

When Manny Pacquiao fought last November in Macau, he kept every penny of his $18 million purse. It wasn't taxed.

Which might explain why he'd refused to fight in Las Vegas or any other American city in 2013: Uncle Sam's sizeable tax bite.

But Pacquiao is coming back — to fight Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the WBO welterweight championship. It's a rematch after he lost a controversial decision to Bradley in June 2012.

Pacquiao is promised a $20 million purse, but 39 percent of it will go to the tax man. That may be the most painful hit he'll take in the bout.

So why did he cave?

• Manny needs money. At 35, the slowing boxer could retire his gloves — but he's cash-poor, due to too much partying and too much philanthropy. He wants to chase one more payday. During the week of his Macau fight, his accounts in the Philippines were frozen because he owed $50 million in back taxes.

• Las Vegas boosts pay-per-view. There's a correlation between prefight media buzz and customers who pay to watch the fight at home. That's why Top Rank offered relatively cheap travel-and-hotel packages for sports writers to travel to Macau. Still, media turnout was light, the buzz was underwhelming and pay-per-view plummeted. When Pacquiao lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 at the MGM, there were 1.15 million pay-per-view buys. The Macau fight landed only 500,000. Las Vegas wins. Welcome back, Manny.

• It'll make Top Rank President Bob Arum happy. "It is important to have him come back to fight in Las Vegas, regardless of the tax consequences," Arum said. "It's all about increasing his visibility in the United States. ... As a promoter, I have always realized my job was to advance the fighter with his personality."

• Maybe it will build momentum for a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is Pacquiao's white whale, the fight that would take him from financially strapped to financially secure. Mayweather is the sport's biggest draw, earning more than $50 million each time he steps into the ring. He and Pacquiao have long tried to agree on terms for a fight, which would easily break revenue records at the box office and with pay-per-view buys. It's the type of night an aging fighter looking for that one last mega-check dreams of. And it would happen here in Las Vegas, where Pacquiao knows he'd maximize his earnings.

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