LOS ANGELES – It's common to see fight cards stacked with Filipino fighters, but shockingly, two of the country's best boxers, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr., have never been on the same card –- until now.
The two General Santos-born fighters will be fighting on November 5 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, with Pacquiao facing off against Mexican-American Jessie Vargas, and Donaire defending his title against Jessie Magdaleno.
It is a dream come true for their promoter, Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum.
"I've been trying to put them together on the same card, (but) I ran into opposition from some of Manny's people," Arum explained when asked why it took so long to put the "Pacman" and "Filipino Flash" in the same fight card.
"But finally, I was able to convince them," he added.
"Depende lang kasi sa schedule," said Donaire. "Kasi noon, lumaban ako, binigyan ako ng schedule, at the same time, may schedule so Manny. Kaya parang hindi nagkataon para mag-sabay kami."
"Pero ngayon, sabay na kami. It gives a lot of people something to look forward to," he said.
The hype around Top Rank's November 5 event extends far beyond the two Filipino superstars, however. It is shaping up to be a global event, as Mexican Oscar Valdez will defend his belt, while China's Zou Shiming is looking for a world title.
Shiming, who trains out of the Wild Card Gym, has been sparring with Donnie Nietes to prepare for his fight.
With the event just six weeks away, Arum reported that ticket sales are coming in strong for the Thomas and Mack Center that seats around 19,000 people. About 7,000 of those seats are being sold for $50.
"It's a real plus for Filipino fans in the United States on pay-per-view, and people are coming to fight and people are seeing these two Philippine icons on this same card," said Arum.
"We just have a handful, maybe a little over a thousand (tickets) left. They're going fast. Probably by the beginning of October, they're gone," he added.
Top Rank is producing the pay-per-view event independently. The broadcast team will be composed of Timothy Bradley – the only fighter to have fought both Pacquiao and Vargas – along with the outspoken Stephen A. Smith.
"You want to get the best possible talents and the most informative telecast," said Arum. "Tim is very articulate, and it's great to have him as one of the commentators."
Arum is set to fly to Hong Kong later this month to check on another one of his fighters, and he said he may possibly visit Pacquiao at his training camp in Manila.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)