Manny Pacquiao with British boxer Ricky Hatton in a press conference in central London to promote their May 2 fight in file photo. MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, MARCH 24, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Stunned like everybody else.

That was how ABS-CBN felt about Manny Pacquiao’s statement that the giant television network aired the video footage that showed the boxing superstar rescinding his contract with Solar Sports when it was not supposed to.

“We are surprised by Manny Pacquiao’s statement that ABS-CBN News broke a supposed embargo,” said a statement released by the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs to the media yesterday.

“We respond because this charge strikes at our core values as a news organization: honest reporting and respect for our sources,” it added.

Out to set the record straight, ABS-CBN said Pacquiao on March 14 recorded a statement “that he asked to be embargoed (withheld)” and the TV station obliged and said that the statement was “never aired.”

It was March 17, when the issue between ABS-CBN and Solar Sports had become the talk of the town, when Pacquiao issued another statement, “saying that he came to ABS-CBN to air his next fight.”

Pacquiao, according to the TV network, approved that statement for airing, and “our newscasts aired it on Wednesday, March 19 (Manila time).

It was in this footage where Pacquiao announced that he was rescinding or has rescinded his contract with Solar Sports as his official media partner, due to delayed payment for his May 2 fight with Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas.

Solar has a contract with Pacquiao to air his fights starting in 2007 until 2011, and has the right to choose a network that would air the fights locally. In this case, GMA-7 is the current partner with a live contract with Solar Sports.

Then on March 19, a Friday in Manila, Pacquiao once again came on ABS-CBN, saying his decision “is still the same” and he asked his supporters to watch out for his Hatton fight on ABS-CBN.

The following day, however, Pacquiao recanted all his previous statements, saying there was no violation in his contract with Solar, which he described as “valid and binding” and therefore he had to honor it.

Pacquiao then came out of GMA-7 saying everything is back to normal. He also apologized to the public for any confusion, and said what happened was a mere miscommunication between him and Solar Sports.

He said the Hatton fight will be aired on GMA-7.

Still, ABS-CBN vowed to carry out its duties professionally, and part of it is to bring fresh, detailed reports on Pacquiao’s training leading to the fight.

“Regardless (of what happened), we continue to report on Manny Pacquiao’s activities and respect his decision to enter into any arrangement with any company regarding his fights,” said ABS-CBN.

The other day, Solar and GMA-7 held a press conference, and during a phone patch from his La Palazzo apartment from Los Angeles Pacquiao talked about the embargo deal with ABS-CBN.

“Ginawa namin yung video statement basta ang usapan itatago lang at hindi muna ilalabas (We did it based on the agreement that it was for embargo),” said Pacquiao as everybody listened.

Yesterday, GMA-7 also came out with a statement.

“GMA Network maintains that after all the recent events that happened, Manny Pacquiao made the right decision by honoring his contract with Solar Sports and more importantly, by remaining a Kapuso (a member of GMA-7 family).

Atty. Felipe Gozon, GMA-7 chairman and chief executive officer, admired Pacquiao for his courage to admit his faults.

“It shows character for a man, particularly a world champion like Manny Pacquiao, to admit and ask forgiveness for committing a mistake. It took a lot of courage to tell the truth over what happened, even if in doing so, some quarters may fault him,” Gozon said.

“We only want what is best for Manny and we wish him success in his fight against Ricky Hatton. His fight is not only for himself and his family, but for the entire country as well. He should now train hard and focus on his preparations for the fight,” Gozon said.

TV dispute over, Manny catches up on training Updated March 25, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao was busy trying to entangle himself from a bitter network battle last week, and his May 2 opponent, Ricky Hatton, was busy training and thinking about his future fight.

Pacquiao skipped a day of workout at the Wild Card Gym last Saturday and took a day off the following day, probably tired and stressed out by the negative, unwanted developments.

But all seemed to be well now after Pacquiao himself made it final and official that he is honoring his local TV rights contract with Solar Sports after thinking of switching channels from GMA-7 to ABS-CBN.

Pacquiao was back on the gym yesterday as he heads into the last five or six weeks of training for the big and probably his most dangerous fight with Hatton in Las Vegas.

Hatton, in Manchester, continued to bang away even if he is more than two weeks ahead in training over Pacquiao, who will try to wrest the Briton’s IBO light-welterweight title.

Hatton was scheduled to meet the UK press Tuesday in Manchester before he packs his bag and head for Sin City where he’ll wrap up his training under Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Hatton and Pacquiao are set to meet once more in a media-only function in Los Angeles on March 31. They were in London and Manchester recently, and after the LA gig, the next time they will meet is on the fight week.

Garreth Davis of The Daily Telegraph in UK yesterday reported that Hatton looks confident of getting past Pacquiao that he is already thinking of his next big fight against either Juan Manuel Marquez of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“Down the line, later this year, I’d like to fight Marquez, and next summer meet Floyd at Wembley Stadium,” said Hatton, who had originally wanted to face Pacquiao before 100,000 fans at Wembley.

Word coming out of the Mayweather camp is that he’s ready to return to the ring on July 11 — against whom and where nobody knows. But he is said to be back training in his own gym in Vegas.

“I will fight any of the top guys,” Mayweather, the pound-for-pound king before Pacquiao stepped into the picture, said, referring to Marquez, Pacquiao, Hatton and Mosley.

But the flamboyant American who can win fights without throwing too many punches, is no longer in Pacquiao’s radar, with Roach saying “he’s a boring fighter and that Pacquiao may look bad even if they win.”

Pacquiao, should he get past Hatton, is looking at welterweight champ Miguel Cotto, and in case he loses may end up fighting a smaller guy like Edwin Valero. – Abac Cordero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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