Arum: Pacquiao reaches Ali's level of popularity

Posted at 09/09/11 4:05 PM

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in Manila during the kick off of their global press tour for their third fight. Photo by Rem Zamora for abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The huge turnout of enthusiastic fans in the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez press tour in Mexico has demonstrated the Filipino superstar’s drawing power, said boxing promoter Bob Arum.

Arum said in Examiner.com that Pacquiao’s popularity is now comparable to Muhammad Ali’s, back when the boxing legend was still active.

"It's like Muhammad Ali for Manny now," Arum said. "It's the same thing I saw happen when Ali left America."

"I mean, we expected 8,000 people or so. We could have gotten 3,000 but we got 30,000,” he added.

Pacquiao accompanied Marquez to Mexico City's Plaza ala Revolucion where the Filipino thanked his Latin American fans.

WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel, for his part, compared Pacquiao to another boxing legend.

"For me, I see Pacquiao as being as charismatic as Sugar Ray Robinson," said Valcarcel.

He said the Filipino champion won the hearts of fight fans by taking on bigger and stronger opponents.

Pacquiao took on the likes of Oscar dela Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.

"I think Manny wins people over when they see him fighting and beating such tough guys, such good punchers, as Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Those two guys hit so hard, Manny took some hard shots from both and yet he beat them both," said Valcarcel.

Arum said the turnout in Mexico gave the promotion a huge momentum.

“I think this fight will do huge numbers on pay per view," the veteran boxing promoter said.

The trip is the 4th and last stop of the promotional tour for the Pacquiao-Marquez rematch, following earlier stops in New York, Los Angeles and Manila.

Pacquiao adulation surprises Barrera

Former Pacquiao foe Marco Antonio Barrera, who now works as a boxing promoter, was surprised with the adulation received by the Filipino in Mexico.

"Yes," Barrera said, "I was surprised. I was very surprised at how the Mexican people treated Manny.”

Barrera, nicknamed “Baby Faced Assassin,” said the Mexicans may have been touched by Pacquiao’s down-to-earth attitude.

“He is very charismatic and very humble and they like that," he said.

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