DECEMBER 30, 2006
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Top Rank Promotions owner Bob Arum said the other day he’s not worried about a supposed threat of rival Golden Boy preventing high-profile opponents Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez from fighting Manny Pacquiao because in the end, it’s what the fans want that counts.

Arum, 75, said the fight game is a business and promoters will set aside their differences to arrange the match with the highest revenue potential.

In Arum’s mind, Pacquiao is the hottest property in boxing today and anyone who faces him in the ring is assured of a big payday.

"I can’t see how Golden Boy won’t want Barrera or Marquez to fight Manny," said Arum. "Barrera’s last fight did only 150,000 hits on pay-per-view and Marquez’ last fight did even worse, about 70,000."

Pacquiao’s last two US fights generated a total of over 700,000 pay-per-view subscriptions. If fighters go where the money is, they’ll head straight for Pacquiao.

Arum arrived here last Dec. 26 to confer with Pacquiao on plans for the future. He flew in via Philippine Airlines early morning and took a 7 a.m. connecting flight to General Santos City. Arum took off from the US on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas Day in flight. He left Manila last night.

Arum said he will offer Barrera a guaranteed purse of $2.5 million and a share of the pay-per-view receipts to take on Pacquiao in Las Vegas on April 17 or 28. Arum reportedly is agreeable to co-promote the bout with Golden Boy. If Barrera plays hard to get, Arum will find another opponent, possibly Humberto Soto, for Pacquiao and bring the fight to Macau. Either way, Pacquiao is assured of a $2 million paycheck. A Barrera rematch would mean a $5 million purse.

A source said Arum inked Pacquiao to a four-year contract with a $1 million signing bonus. Each year, Pacquiao will see action at least twice and Arum will also promote four bouts involving Filipino fighters of Pacquiao’s choice. Arum will pay Pacquiao a minimum of $2 million, regardless of whether the fight is for a title or not.

Arum said as an "old school" promoter, he prefers fighters to stay active and appear in three to four fights a year, something he can arrange for Pacquiao who commented he didn’t mind the frequency.

The contract awards Pacquiao exclusive Philippine TV rights for his fights and a 50 percent share of net income in each promotion without contributing a single cent of investment.

"Top Rank’s offer is better than Golden Boy’s," said Rex (Wakee) Salud who is Pacquiao’s consultant on boxing affairs. "Golden Boy’s contract was for seven fights without a time period and with no minimum purse. They could tie you down for as long as they want. I prefer dealing with Top Rank because I can go straight to Bob. I told Bob I refuse to go through an agent."

Salud said there’s only a slim chance that Pacquiao will renew manager Shelly Finkel’s contract.

Another Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz, a Canadian lawyer, said Finkel’s contract expired last August and will not be renewed. Pacquiao’s chief of staff Jayke Joson said Arum explained that the fighter no longer needs a manager since he now has a promoter in Top Rank.

"Aside from a promoter, Bob mentioned Manny just needs a lawyer and an accountant," said Joson.

Finkel, however, is highly regarded in boxing circles and his influence is far-reaching.

Koncz said Pacquiao knew all along Arum would visit.

"I ran the idea of Bob’s visit through Manny and he approved it," said Koncz. "Bob wanted to come for Manny’s birthday (Dec. 17) but couldn’t make it. Because of the Christmas rush, Bob could only book a ticket out of the US for Christmas Eve. That’s how special Manny is to him."

Koncz said Arum, at his expense, has assigned an independent lawyer William Coulthard of the Las Vegas law firm Harrison, Kemp and Jones to handle Pacquiao’s legal matters in the US.

Koncz, who lives in Orange County, California, arrived with Pacquiao from Los Angeles last month. He said he will stay in the country as long as Pacquiao needs him.

"My loyalty is to Manny, not to anyone else," said Koncz. "I don’t get a cent from Top Rank. I give Manny advice and it’s up to him to take it or leave it. My obligation now is to find more Filipino fighters for Top Rank to promote."

Hope for the new year THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco The Philippine Star 12/30/2006

The last two days have brought a lot of resolution, relief and restoration to Philippine sports. This humble writer’s fervent prayer is that the good news be real and sustainable, as we start a new year.

For the New Year, I hope that Manny Pacquiao’s legal issues regarding his promoter will ultimately be resolved. The confusion generated by the two contracts casts a stain on an otherwise sterling year for the WBC international superfeatherweight champ. Also, I hope that his live performances are handled better. He deserves success in whatever he does.

For Philippine basketball, I applaud the gesture of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to make the final move to resolve the impasse in the sport. Breaking the BAP’s silence has resulted in a huge sigh of relief, especially from those who simply want to get back to work. Now, we can really plan, with all the proper elements in place: a unified front, generous sponsors, professional managers, and a singlemindedness of purpose.

For the Philippine Sports Commission, more visibility and diversity in the action of its board. With the new mandate given chairman Butch Ramirez, I hope that we will see even more athletes benefiting from the generosity of private sponsors, and more success internationally. May we continue to learn more and bring more learnings back from China, Italy and wherever our athletes’ travels take them.

For the Philippine Olympic Committee, more housecleaning of the NSAs. May those that have atrophied be revived, and those undeserving of running national sports associations in the country be shown the door. May the POC be steadfast in its vision of getting the country its first Olympic gold medal. The momentum has started to shift. Since the 1960’s, we have seen a decline in our international dominance that once had us flooring China, Japan and Australia in international meets. May we find new heroes, who will inspire future generations of athletes in a continuous cycle.

For sports like tennis, the fruits of its quiet grassroots development program becoming known, and more benefactors like Jean Henri Lhuillier, who has selflessly propped up a sport that has seen better days. In the short run, more Fil-foreign athletes willing to don the national colors and transfer technology and training to local counterparts.

For the PBA, may it continue to provide inspiration and entertainment for our countrymen, and may it be awash in new ideas and a bigger audience come 2007. There is no bigger year-round show in Philippine sports. May it also find more players who connect with the masses, and may its teams find greater fame and improved revenue over the next year.

For Boom Boom Bautista and Brian Viloria, may they finally and unquestionably become world champions in 2007, and give our countrymen the emotional lift that proves we can be the best in the world. May all the controversies and questions be answered with their fists, inside the ring, and not by any circumstances outside of it.

For mainstream TV networks, may they cover big sporting events for their new programs, regardless of who has the broadcast rights. Sports events are news, and that is sometimes forgotten. May the competition be ignored for the sake of bringing people the excitement and good news that a good game brings. May television continue to stretch the boundaries of its imagination with regards to sports, and see that it is a goldmine beyond mere events coverage.

For sportswriters, my brothers in this profession, may they find not only the big stories, but the little ones that showcase triumph against the odds, and bring to light little triumphs as well as big issues that are often overlooked: abuse of young athletes, poor education for school athletes, decrepit sports facilities in the face of an abundance of underused sports venues, and so on.

For the NBA, may it recover from the controversies of zero tolerance, the new ball and injuries to its top players. May it continue to expand, and finally put up an office in the Philippines. May we become not just a side trip, but a main destination for NBA events and talent, so that our countrymen - especially those in the south- can experience the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of being in the presence of world-class greatness.

For the Olympic Games, may they soon include billiards, bowling and perhaps even dancesport, three sports voted down three years ago, and thus open the door to the greatest Filipino talents to find the biggest spotlight in the world.

For you, dear reader, I pray for health, peace, love, prosperity and abundance this coming year.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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