[PHOTO AT RIGHT- World Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao speaks to his supporters during a campaign rally in Alabel, Sarangani province in southern Philippines in May 1, 2010. Pacquiao is running as congressman in his hometown in Sarangani province. REUTERS/Erik de Castro.]

KIAMBRA, SARANGANI, MAY 7, 2010 (PHIL BOXING NEWS) By Ronnie Nathanielsz - The adulation of millions of Filipinos for pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao has spilled over into admiration for Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who was welcomed with open arms by the people of Kiamba, a small town in Sarangani when he visited Pacquiao’s home and then attended a campaign rally after a 92 kilometer drive from General Santos City.

Grateful Filipinos who recognize how much Arum has done for the career of Pacquiao alongside celebrated trainer Freddie Roach swarmed around him even on his arrival Thursday morning in Manila from Las Vegas with one question on their mind – when will he be able to make a Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr fight happen.

Arum said he didn’t come to the Philippines to discuss future fights with Pacquiao but came here to help boost Pacquiao’s desire to win the congressional seat in Sarangani and continue his mission to help the poor.

Arum told us “Manny’s desire to help the poor so he can, in his own way make their lives better, is is more important to me than a left hook or a right cross or anything like that.”

Arum stressed that he visited Manny in the homestretch of the campaign to give him moral support saying “I have no intention to talk boxing with Manny at all. I am restricted here and rightly so as a foreigner and I can’t campaign actively for him but I can be here and support him and talk to him about what his goal is and that’s to win a congressional seat.”

Arum said people “can draw whatever inference they want from my presence here. But I do believe he will fight again but even if he doesn’t which I don’t think is going to be the case, he’s had a great career. It’s a real honor and a great experience for me to have been associated with him.”

There were about 2,000 people at the small rally held Thursday and Arum and visiting journalists Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times, Nancy Gay of AOL Fanhouse, Michael Marley of and a British journalist from the Times of London drew their own share of attention at the rally as they were roundly applauded when introduced to the fans along with ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo who was given the loudest applause and this reporter.

Clearly the crowd were thrilled at seeing their hero, with many of them young, innocent kids whose smiles and sparkling eyes attracted the attention of Gay who kept commenting about their childlike innocence and said she would love to take some of them back home with her.

The respect the kids as well as the older folk paid to the visitors was touching as they reached to shake their hands and thank them while the kids in typical Filipino fashion took their hands and touched their foreheads.

The nagging question is whether the crowds and the applause as well as the hero-worship can be translated into votes at the polling precints on May 10 or will Pacquiao suffer another humiliating defeat similar to the one he suffered when he was soundly beaten by the attractive and articulate Darlene Antonino in the last congressional elections in General Santos City.

Those around Pacquiao including his charming wife Jinkee who has been a major asset on the campaign trail since she is from Sarangani, believe Manny, based on whatever surveys that have been conducted would win but there are perhaps more discerning individuals who feel that it would be next to impossible to defeat his opponent Roy Chiongbian, a scion of the wealthy Chiongbian family who have controlled the province for decades and have a solid organization in place. Only time will tell.



GENERAL SANTOS CITY - Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, undoubtedly the most astute negotiator in the sometimes serpentine business of boxing, believes that he may succeed in getting a megabuck fight between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr to happen in Novemnber.

In an exclusive interview with, Standard Today and Viva Sports in Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos City, Arum told us “Once I talk with Manny which will be after the elections (on Monday) I will do whatever I can to make that fight a reality.”

Arum said he had never seen anything like this because “wherever I go whether its coming here to the Philippines or back in the states in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and in New York, that’s what people ask me. Everyone who comes up to me asks ‘when is Manny going to fight Mayweaher?”

Arum said “when you get an overwhelming public demand for a fight like that, which I haven’t seen since (Muhmmad) Ali and (Joe) Frazir fought the first time in 1971 you have to do everything you can to make that fight a reality.”

Arum said that after Mayweather’s easy win over Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last weekend he believes a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will be easier to make.

He said that after watching Mayweather beat Mosley and Pacquiao beat Joshua Clottey which Arum described as “not really competitive fights the fans are saying “but these guys (Pacquiao and Mayweather) are both so good. I think now the public is saying enough, enough, we want these guys to fight each other in the biggest fight of all-time. Each makes a pot-full of money and that fight has to happen.”

Arum said “that is the reaction of fight fans, sports fans and just casual observers. He added, “now I think the fighters do want it. Manny always wanted it and couldn’t make it last time . I have my doubts whether Floyd wanted it. Floyd realizes now that he can’t putter around fighting guys that people don’t believe are competitive and I think Floyd really, genuinely now wants the fight.”

Arum epmhasized that he didn’t want to “talk about anything with regard to the negotiations because I haven’t discussed anything with Manny Pacquiao and because you don’t go into negotiations showing your cards.”

Arum however said that If the fight is going to happen these issues (of income split and random drug tests) have to be talked about in private. The more we go public the more each side gets put into a corner and less likely the fight is to happen. That was a mistake that was made the last time which was made by Mayweather and (Richard Schaefer) putting out a press release which blew up everything about the possibility that Manny was on performance enhancing drugs and that started everything. It went downhill and I don’t want that to happen again.”

However Arum told us that “if everything goes well the good time for that fight would be November after the baseball season is over and before the football playoffs start. November would be the perfect time.”

When we pointed out that the public wants the fight and he honestly believes both fighters want the fight and there’s nobody who doesn’t want it Arum replied “that is correct and that’s why I believe this fight is going to happen.”

While admitting that they have options in case the Mayweather fight doesn’t push through Arum conceded “I didn’t feel sad last time going to the second option (the fight against Clottey) but I would feel a sadness this time going to the second time.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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