MANILA, Philippines?The next time Manny Pacquiao?s fans get to watch the Filipino boxing superstar fight live on local television screens, it will be most likely no longer courtesy of Solar Sports.
The world?s pound-for-pound king, according to unimpeachable sources, is severing his ties with the troubled sports channel and looking to hook up with one of several interested networks, including media giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., for his mega-buck bout against British Hitman Ricky Hatton on May 2.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer learned about this development Saturday night from the source, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The source also declined to discuss the details of the looming split but bared that Pacquiao?s camp is ?very close? to striking a new deal with ?a giant network.?
Pacquiao?s recent fights were beamed locally by Solar Sports through GMA-7, in which he has a weekly show, ?Pinoy Records,? with Ateneo de Manila University basketball superstar Chris Tiu.
The Pacman is in the United States training for his coming junior welterweight match with Hatton, who is undefeated in the 140 lb division.
Several names have cropped up as a possible next foe for the Gen. Santos City lefty, among them, Floyd Mayweather Jr. This fight could possibly be the final?and one of the richest fights?for the Filipino ring icon.
Pacquiao had said in several TV interviews that he would retire at the end of the year so he could devote time to his political plans.
ABS-CBN, which carried most of Pacquiao?s fights in his rise to global superstardom, is one of the leading contenders to land the fat television contract.
Doubts about Solar Sport?s ability to mount an expensive coverage began to surface after a series of events that did not help the cable giant?s image any.
Solar Sports postponed a fight card, featuring world champion Nonito Donaire and Filipino-American Brian Viloria, scheduled this month because sponsors could only commit a bigger budget in the second quarter of the year.
Last week, the network also requested a 25-percent discount in its contract with the Philippine Basketball Association, a slash-down that is expected to be rejected by the league?s board of governors.
The sports channel also slashed 10 to 30 percent off the salaries of personnel doing the PBA games starting with the Fiesta Cup.
A Solar Sports official said they failed to meet ?the high goal we set? when they acquired the rights to air the games before the start of the season.
The network is asking for the discount with the PBA set to impose its ?lockout clause? on direct product competitors of the 10 teams in the league.
The clause restricts Solar from carrying advertisements of products directly in competition with the member teams of the league, thus drastically narrowing the cable company?s revenue pool.