By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Filipino boxing hero and national treasure Manny Pacquiao has decided to move from Solar Sports and return to the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN and has announced that fight fans will see his "Battle of East and West" against Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2 on the network’s pre-eminent Channel 2.
Pacquiao has for some time now expressed his desire to move to ABS-CBN which had bankrolled his fight against Oscar Larios at the Araneta Coliseum for a number of reasons including the quality coverage consistently provided by the Lopez-owned network.
Even when Solar Sports telecast the Pacquiao fights over GMA 7, ABS-CBN provided extensive coverage of the buildup to the fights, his training and all pre and post-fight activities which helped further enhance the image of Pacquiao and promoted his fights.
During the recent promotional tour in Manchester City and London , ABS-CBN had a crew covering every activity of Pacquiao and even had coverage of Hatton which included exclusive interviews with the IBO light welterweight champion.
In a statement on TV Patrol from Los Angeles , Pacquiao thanked the media and said his fight against Hatton will be with his new television partner ABS-CBN even as he made it clear it was his decision.
Standard Today learned that Pacquiao had signed a three-fight contract with the broadcast network which includes the Hatton fight a couple of days ago and decided to inform his countrymen of his decision on the ABS-CBN evening newscast - TV patrol.
Pacquiao’s lawyer Franklin "Jeng" Gacal who arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday after Pacquiao had made his statement told us he didn’t see the statement and was not completely aware of what Pacquiao’s decision was but indicated "he is moving to ABS-CBN."
Indications are that Solar Sports had delayed payment of what was due Pacquiao for the television rights for his fight against Oscar De La Hoya last December 6 and only remitted the balance due to his US bank account on Tuesday.
In his announcement Pacquiao thanked his former media partner but said that after some serious thinking he approached ABS-CBN to renew their previous partnership. Pacquiao stressed that this was "my decision" and called on his fans to watch his fight against Hatton on ABS-CBN. He vowed to continue fight for the country and people and said he would fight for all his countrymen no matter where they are.
Pacquiao thanked his supporters and requested them to pray for him in his fight on May 2.
Following the announcement by Pacquiao, ABS-CBN in a statement said "We are very happy with the decision of Manny Pacquiao to be his partner in future fights including the Pacquiao-Hatton fight on May 2. As his former media partner, we shall support Manny's campaign to bring honor to the Philippines and to his kababayans here and around the world. To Manny, we say 'Welcome home, Kapamilya.'"
Solar Sports has consistently claimed they have a live and valid contract with Pacquiao’s MP Promotions that runs until May 2011 and would institute legal action against both Pacquiao and ABS-CBN.
Solar Sports lawyer Atty. Enrique de la Cruz was quoted by Philboxing as saying they have “a legal and binding contract” with Pacquiao which he cannot unilaterally rescind even as the lawyer cautioned “other entities from entering into contracts with Pacquiao in violation of this agreement."
Solar Sports vice president Ralph Roy told PhilBoxing that they would definitely fight for their rights and should ABS-CBN push through with the Pacquiao-Hatton telecast Solar Sports will surely go to court to stop the telecast of the fight which means “the Filipino people would be the big losers.