GMA RALLIES NATION BEHIND MANNY'S BOUT VERSUS MEXICAN, MAY 8

MANILA,  May 4, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Abac Cordero  -  President Arroyo yesterday called on the entire nation to unite and rally behind boxer Manny Pacquiao for his much-awaited bout against Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 8.

"Let us unite as one nation behind Manny Pacquiao," said the President’s message, which was relayed to mediamen by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Eric Buhain.

Pacquiao, who rocked the boxing world with a classic 11th round knockout of Mexican sensation Marco Antonio Barrera last November, faces the fight of his life against Marquez, the reigning IBF and WBA featherweight champion.

To succeed, President Arroyo said Pacquiao would need all the support and all the prayers of the entire country, which is also busy preparing and gearing up for the May 10 national elections.

"A victory by Pacquiao will be a victory for the Filipino people. And just like exercising your right to vote, I also call on all Filipinos to support Pacquiao in his upcoming fight," Buhain quoted President Arroyo as saying.

Buhain, a former athlete and winner of 15 swimming gold medals in the SEA Games, also urged the close to a thousand national athletes to stand behind Pacquaio and probably draw inspiration heading toward the Athens Olympics in August.

"There’s no line between amateur and professional athletes when it comes to this. Let us all rally behind Pacquiao, a professional boxer, a Filipino athlete," said Buhain.

The PSC chief said national athletes staying at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex will be given the chance to witness the fight to be held in the morning of Sunday (May 9 Manila time) in their respective quarters or the athletes’ lounge inside the complex.

For beating Barrera, Pacquiao, of Gen. Santos City, received a purse of $350,000 (almost P18 million). He also received a P1 million cash incentive from President Arroyo, a condominium unit in Manila courtesy of Mayor Lito Atienza, and a million more in advertisements and endorsement deals.

Against Marquez, a stone-faced slugger, Pacquiao stands to receive $1 million. It will be the biggest purse ever given to a Filipino athlete for a single contest–this one lasting no more than 12 rounds or 36 minutes.

Win or lose that is.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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