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Philippines thrilled by Pacquiao-Marquez promotion

September 1, 2011 | 11:14 am

An American boxing promoter and a fighter from Mexico walked off a plane in Manila on Thursday and were greeted by hundreds of people and a dozen television cameras.

And so began the international tour to tout the third fight between the Mexican boxer, Juan Manuel Marquez, and his Filipino rival, Manny Pacquiao, Nov. 12 in Las Vegas.

"It's bedlam here," said Fred Sternburg, a Pacquiao publicist assisting veteran promoter Bob Arum on the tour that will begin with a Saturday news conference expected to draw 100,000 to Manila's Quirino Grandstand.

The tour will move on to New York on Tuesday, where Pacquiao will perform his remake of Dan Hill's 1970s hit, "Sometimes When We Touch," with Hill. (The Pacquiao version climbed as high as No. 7 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and now is No. 8.)

A press-only visit to the Beverly Hills Hotel will come Wednesday, and then 50,000 more fans are expected for a Thursday stop in Mexico City.

Pacquiao, widely considered boxing's top pound-for-pound fighter, fought Marquez to a draw in 2004, then edged him by split decision in 2008.

Pacquiao proceeded to claim an eighth weight-class world title at 154 pounds, while Marquez won the 135-pound (lightweight) belt. Pacquiao-Marquez III will be fought at welterweight (147 pounds), where Marquez was dismantled by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his only bout at that weight.

Still, Marquez insists he best knows how to test Pacquiao, and the Filipino audience has shown the proper respect.

Sternburg said a 100-piece band met Marquez in Manila, playing a national song entitled, "The People," and also Herb Albert's "Tijuana Taxi." Marquez was greeted by Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim and given a key to the city.

He has further endeared himself by conducting interviews in English.

"The city loves the way he fights, and they know how close these first two fights were," Sternburg said.

Marquez will visit Mexico's embassy in the Philippines on Friday and attend a dinner with Pacquiao, who has completed four days of training.

Sunday, the pair will take Communion together at Manila Cathedral.


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Photo: Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez, center left, is escorted by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, center right, as he arrives in Manila. Marquez is in the country to promote his fight against Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on Nov. 12. Credit: Aaron Favila / Associated Press