(STAR) The Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rematch has become so hot that people in Mexico just can’t stop talking about it.

Promoter Bob Arum, who is vacationing in the Mexican city of Cabo San Lucas, is just amazed.

“I didn’t look at this fight as anything more special than the (Erik) Morales or Barrera fights,” said the Top Rank president, who will promote the March 15 showdown with Golden Boy.

“But it’s created a tremendous buzz with the Mexicans down here in Mexico now and that all they’re talking about is that fight,” Arum told the other day.

The legendary promoter just can’t wait to shift to high gear in his bid to promote the fight like he’s never done before for Pacquiao.

The Filipino superstar agreeing to train in Los Angeles for the whole two months leading to the fight is all that he needs.

The rematch is set at Mandalay Bay. At stake is the Mexican’s WBC super-featherweight crown. Once he gets past this one, Pacquiao is looking at David Diaz (135 lbs) in July and Ricky Hatton (140 lbs) in November.

“I will have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of promotions with Manny that aren’t just Filipino- and Mexican-motivated. I’m going to have him on a lot of shows just so more people know who he is.”

Pacquiao is in the US vacationing with his family, but reportedly plans to return to Manila this week, before flying to LA once again for the non-stop training.

Top Rank spinner Bill Caplan also told that they’re looking at Pacquiao guesting at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and probably do a Beatles song or two.

“I can sense how huge this fight is becoming. We’ve been in the 350 to 400,000 pay-per-view buys range for his (Pacquiao’s) fights and we’re looking to do 500,000 buys on this fight,” said Arum. – Abac Cordero

‘Merger’ champ to get cash prize By Nelson Beltran Friday, January 4, 2008

The BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is seriously considering putting up a cash incentive for the champion of the proposed super collegiate league or the unified NCAA-UAAP tourney.

The idea cropped up during the meeting among SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, vice chairman Ricky Vargas, executive director Patrick Gregorio and some PLDT executives Wednesday.

This developed as San Beda has reportedly made a commitment to the SBP president to support the proposed NCAA-UAAP unification. Pangilinan is the Red Lions’ top supporter.

Gregorio has been doing the rounds of schools involved in the two leagues and has scheduled meetings with top officials of Letran, Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal U today.

“Mr. Pangilinan wants the best benefits for the schools and their sports programs. He’s seriously thinking on staking a cash prize to support the sports program of the champion team,” said Gregorio.

SBP officials feel the level of collegiate basketball will improve with the merger of the NCAA and the UAAP. The proposed merger came about through the initiative of the University of the Philippines as part of the grand celebration of its centennial foundation this year.

“To sweeten the pot, the SBP is offering sort of gold and glory to the champion,” said Gregorio.

Gregorio said possible source of the prize money is the PLDT Foundation.

At the same time, Pangilinan will formally inform the boards of the NCAA and the UAAP on the proposed league.

The SBP, for one, is looking to strengthen the country’s varsity program this year in preparation for the World University Games in Belgrade next year.

“We’re not able to join the recent Universiade. With this super league, this could be the eliminator. The champion team plus the Mythical Five could be our representative to the university games,” said Gregorio.

The SBP wants an ad hoc organizing committee be formed soon to discuss concerns, issues and ideas for the unification.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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