MANILA, MARCH 24, 2008
(STAR) By Katherine Adraneda - Malacañang rolls out the red carpet for Manny Pacquiao who arrives in Manila this morning more than a week after he won the World Boxing Council (WBC) super-featherweight crown with a close victory over Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas.

But the day’s schedule for the 29-year-old champion is not going to be very hectic.

After a brief rest upon his arrival at 6 a.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pacquiao will attend a thanksgiving mass at the Quiapo Church at 9 a.m. He will make a courtesy call on President Arroyo at the Palace at 2:30 p.m.

The Pacquiao camp has prepared for a motorcade tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m. at the DENR office along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza, who’s been behind Pacquiao even when he was still struggling as a boxer, said only six to eight vehicles will form the motorcade in order to facilitate a smoother flow.

The motorcade will pass through Quezon Ave., España, A.H. Lacson, Tayuman, Sande, Moriones toward R-10 in Manila, Roxas Blvd., T.M. Kalaw, Taft, Vito Cruz, F.B. Harrison toward Buendia, Ayala and finally Makati Ave.

Pacquiao will be billeted at the World Renaissance Hotel in Makati.

Pay-per-view in Marquez title bout hits record $20M By Joaquin Henson Monday, March 24, 2008

From early indications, it looks like the US pay-per-view sales for Manny Pacquiao’s win over Juan Manuel Marquez will exceed 400,000 hits – the most ever in a fight involving the Filipino icon, establishing his stature as a major player in the multi-million dollar boxing market.

Pacquaio’s adviser Michael Koncz said yesterday Top Rank chairman Bob Arum couldn’t be happier with the results.

“We’re tracking 400,000 hits right now and the figures aren’t final yet,” said Koncz. “I’m not sure if we’ll reach 500,000 but going beyond 400,000 is already a major achievement for Manny. It’s the largest pay-per-view audience for any of his fights, more than his three bouts with (Erik) Morales and two with (Marco Antonio) Barrera.”

The 400,000 hits translate to $20 million in revenues with Pacquiao to get a share of at least $2 million added to his guaranteed purse of over $5 million. The gate of over 11,000 fans kicked in income of $3.3 million.

Koncz branded Marquez as a “sore loser” for refusing to accept his defeat by split decision to Pacquiao.

“They can’t blame the judges,” he said. “They agreed to the lineup. Freddie (Roach) even suggested to replace an original judge (Bill Flaherty) to avoid controversy since he’s a family friend. The replacement (Tom Miller) scored it for Manny but when someone checked with Flaherty, he also scored it for Manny in his personal scorecard. The American TV panel saw it for Manny, too. As far as I’m concerned, there was no controversy.”

Koncz said Marquez refused to shake Pacquiao’s hand twice after the final bell in their classic 12-round battle last March 15.

“What Marquez did after the decision was announced was to ask Manny for a rematch,” said Koncz. “Manny didn’t refuse him. All Manny told him was it’s up to his promoter (Arum) and his team.”

* * *

Pacquiao’s boyhood pal and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez said he’s not closing the door on a third fight against Marquez but the Mexican has to wait his turn.

“We’re moving ahead,” said Fernandez. “We’re not wasting time on Marquez. The way we see it, Manny has beaten him twice. Of course, he’ll always be a hard opponent because of his style. But he’s 34 with limited options. Manny’s 29 with a wide open future.”

Fernandez said WBC lightweight champion David Diaz looms as Pacquiao’s next opponent but it all depends on discussions with Arum.

“Manny knows best,” said Fernandez. “As soon as he decides what to do next and talks it over with Arum, then we’ll start getting ready.”

Fernandez said only a few days after beating Marquez, Pacquiao looked none the worse for wear. The swelling around the right eye has nearly disappeared. There remains a slight blemish under the right optic but the cuts are healing properly. Most importantly, Pacquiao is in good spirits.

The morning before boarding a Philippine Airlines flight for Manila from Los Angeles last Saturday, Pacquiao said he was excited to return home and celebrate with his countrymen.

But the celebration started in Los Angeles last Monday when Pacquiao treated his wife Jinkee, her twin sister Janet and close to 30 others to a day at the Universal Studios. Then, he treated the group to a trip to Disneyland last Tuesday and a visit to the Mt. Baldy ski resort, where the elevation of its snow-capped peaks is 10,000 feet, last Wednesday.

Driving to Mt. Baldy was a fun experience, said Fernandez who was with his wife. “Manny even took off his shirt for picture-taking in the freezing cold,” laughed Fernandez.

Mt. Baldy is the highest summit in the San Gabriel range of Southern California and its lodge is patronized by skiers who enjoy the slopes of the eastern peak which rises to over 10,000 feet and the western peak with an elevation of close to 10,000 feet.

Last Friday, Pacquiao treated his entourage of 30 to an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Seattle SuperSonics at the Staples Center. He booked two VIP lounge boxes to accommodate his party.

The Lakers didn’t disappoint Pacquiao, a big basketball fan and a serious player, as they crushed the Sonics, 130-105, with eight cagers led by Kobe Bryant in twin digits. The Lakers are now the No. 1 team in the Western Conference with a 48-21 record and No. 3 overall behind Boston and Detroit.

Asked what was Pacquiao’s bonus for him, Fernandez said it’s a secret. “That’s private because it’s between Manny and me,” added Roach’s alter ego in Pacquiao’s corner. Fernandez’ usual pay is five percent of Pacquiao’s gross purse.

* * *

A delegation of about 16 Nike executives from the Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters was at ringside to witness Pacquiao’s victory over Marquez at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Tony Atayde Jr. flew in from Manila to represent Nike’s Philippine office.

The word is Pacquiao’s two TV commercials are about to break in the Asia-Pacific market. Both reportedly show Pacquiao in training - running at Griffith Park and working out at the Wild Card Gym. It was rumored that Nike paid a hefty sum to the Los Angeles City government to close the streets surrounding Griffith Park to shoot Pacquiao for over an hour.

It was also rumored that one of the commercials will show Pacquiao in alternate training takes with other Nike athletes like Maria Sharapova, Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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