JANUARY 1, 2007
(STAR) By Emmanuel Villaruel - Fireworks exploded in the boxing arena on New Year’s eve after promoter Sammy Gello-ani confirmed that the prestigious "World Cup of Boxing" featuring Philippines vs Mexico will be staged in Cebu on March 4.

Among the venues being considered for the historic, multi-million extravaganza are the newly-built Cebu International Convention Center and the South Reclamation Property.

"I’m happy to announce that the World Cup of Boxing featuring Philippines vs Mexico is on. We’ve learned just this morning from Golden Boy Promotions that that event will be held on March 4 in Cebu," said Gello-ani in a press conference yesterday.

Gello-ani’s revelation was affirmed by WBO vice president and Asia-Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo, who said WBO president Francisco Valcarcel called him up to confirm and give his blessings for the World Cup of Boxing to take place in the country’s boxing capital.

"We’re very happy to have this event in Cebu," said Panoncillo, who is in town for a gift-giving activity to less fortunate kids at the SOS Village in Talamban and at the Asilo de la Milagrosa orphanage in Gorordo as part of WBO’s annual charity.

Gello-ani said the March 4 date was Golden Boy’s choice to give way to a possible March 17 showdown between WBC super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Gello-ani said two of the three title fights lined up in the mega-fight card are already a done deal.

ALA ring stars Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista and Z "The Dream" Gorres will challenge Mexican champions Daniel Ponce de Leon and Fernando Montiel for the WBO super bantamweight and WBO super flyweight crowns, respectively.

The WBO bantamweight championship bout between Gerry Peñalosa and Jhonny Gonzalez hit a snag as the handlers of Gonzalez don’t want their ward to come to the Philippines and risk his throne.

In the event the fight will be scrapped, Gello-ani said they have an option of bringing WBO light flyweight crown-holder Hugo Cazarez to put his belt on the line most likely against veteran hitman Bert Batawang.

This early, Bautista got an added source of strength and inspiration after his manager Michael Aldeguer divulged that the Bohol boxing sensation will be inserted in the undercard of the super fight between Oscar de la Hoya and "Pretty Boy" Flloyd Mayweather on May 5 in Las Vegas if he gets past De Leon.

Michael, son of Team ALA top honco Antonio "Bidoy" Aldeguer, said Bautista is ripe and ready for a world title shot.

"He’s ready. We talked about this for a long time already. Bautista feels ready. This fight is a go," said Michael.

Aside from Bautista and Gorres, rising ALA star Alex John "Bazooka" Banal and Golden Boy’s new-found talent Jimrex Jaca will also show their stuff in the equally-exciting undercards of the seven-bout presentation.

Bautista, Gorres and Banal are set to leave for US on Jan. 10 together with their trainer Edito "ALA" Villamor to undergo further training at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood under the guidance of celebrated tactician Freddie Roach.

A heated battle among TV networks for the right to broadcast the ground-breaking card looms large in the horizon.

"Several TV networks have shown keen interest. Even during the holidays, we were in close contact with them. As of now, we’re open to negotiations," said Tony Aldeguer.

Among the TV networks interested in beaming the slugfest on Pay-Per-View basis are ABS-CBN, NBN, Solar Sports and a possible merger of GMA 7 and Viva Sports.

If there are no takers, Gello-ani said Golden Boy Promotions is willing to take up the cudgels on the Pay-Per-View concerns of the card.

Meanwhile, Gello-ani has appealed to the government and private sectors to help them run the event.

"This is history for Cebu. I hope the government and private sectors will help us because together we can make things possible," said Gello-ani.

The winner of the World Cup of Boxing will take possession of the $500,000 trophy. — The FreemanNews Service

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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