By Ronnie Nathanielsz
MANNY Pacquiao, who wants to fight in April prior to a fifth duel with Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, is being groomed to head a blockbuster card that would include World Boxing Organization/Ring Magazine super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire and WBO/World Boxing Association flyweight champion Brian Viloria.
The two opponents mentioned for a possible April 20 fight against Pacquiao proposed by a member of Team Pacquiao to business tycoon Manny Pangilinan, are undefeated junior welterweight Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and Mexican Humberto Soto, who some years ago was regarded as a possible challenger to the Filipino ring icon.
The last big fight of Pacquiao in Manila was on July 2, 2006, when he successfully defended his WBC International super featherweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Mexico’s Oscar “Chololo” Larios at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a fight promoted by ABS-CBN at a cost of $4 million.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission had imposed on Pacquiao a 90-day period from his Dec. 8 knockout at the hands of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, before he could resume sparring, which would end in the first week of March.
This would not give Pacquiao enough time to train for an April fight should it be held in the US, where the directive would have to be followed.
However, the NSAC directive does not cover the Philippines or Asia and is believed to have sparked the interest in staging a possible fight in Manila, Macau or Singapore this April.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef was in Macau reportedly to explore the possibility of staging the fight card in the gambling capital of Asia, according to promoter Bob Arum.
Singapore, where the Marina Sands has hosted two world title fights of WBC featherweight champion Chris John, was also being considered.
However, Pacquiao himself has indicated he wants to fight in Manila.
When questioned about the huge investment to stage such an ambitious card, the Team Pacquiao proponent told BoxingScene/Manila Standard: “It can be worked out.”
He also expressed confidence that the conflict over TV coverage could also be resolved.
Donaire is tied up with ABS-CBN, while Pacquiao and Viloria are with Solar Sports and GMA-7.
BoxingScene/Manila Standard was informed that Donaire and Viloria were being lined up against currently unnamed Mexican opponents, while featherweight Michael Farenas, was also being pushed for inclusion in the card.
The Team Pacquiao proponent referred to the huge investment as “a calculated risk,” but indicated he is confident the pay-per-view income generated by having Pacquiao, Donaire and Viloria on the same card would cover the expenses.