GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 November) – Thousands of boxing fans and avid followers here of boxing sensation and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao will be treated anew with a “ringside view” on Sunday when the ring icon faces off for the third time with his Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Friday the local government will open anew the 6,000-seat city gymnasium in Barangay Lagao for the free live telecast via pay-per-view of Pacquiao’s highly anticipated World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title defense against Marquez.
She said they were finalizing a deal with Solar Sports Entertainment for the pay-per-view subscription of the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy, which will be viewed through a giant screen that is being set up inside the city gymnasium.
Custodio said the city government earlier negotiated for a discounted rate of the subscription, which has increased to P400,000 from the previous P300,000.
“This is a historic fight and we’ll be rooting and praying again for Manny,” said the mayor, who had led local residents in cheering for the city’s favorite son in his previous fights.
The city government had sponsored free live telecasts at the city gymnasium for previous major fights of Pacquiao, who grew up in Barangay Labangal here.
Aside from Custodio, the free live viewing at the city gymnasium will be joined by South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. and other city officials.
Avel Manansala, media affairs coordinator of the city mayor’s office, said the city government issued anew “control tickets” for the event.
He said they tapped the city’s 26 barangay councils to facilitate the distribution of the allotted 7,000 tickets, which local residents may avail for free on a “first come, first served” basis.
Manansala said the tickets will guarantee reserved seats inside the gymnasium, which will open at 8am Sunday for the live telecast, starting from the undercards to the main event.
“The tickets were issued to avoid overcrowding inside the gym. But we will set up viewing screens outside the gym for those who could not be accommodated inside,” he said.
Meantime, aside from the city government, the barangay councils of Bula, Apopong and Labangal here will also be offering free the live telecasts of the fight at their barangay gymnasiums.
Pacquiao’s younger brother Rogelio and sister-in-law Lorelei are barangay chairs of Apopong and Labangal, respectively.
The two officials, along with Pacquiao’s father Rosalio and another brother Bobby, left for the United States earlier this week to watch the fight at the ringside.
In Sarangani, officials of the province’s congressional district office said a free live telecast of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight will also be beamed at the provincial capitol gymnasium in Alabel town.
A source close to the Pacquiao camp said the pay-per-view subscriptions for Sarangani and the three barangays here were contracted by the boxing champion’s foundation.
In this city and nearby Koronadal City in South Cotabato, a number of restaurants, cinemas and even small eateries are also offering live telecasts of the fight via pay-per-view and cable television. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)