MANILA: Raucous cheers erupted from Philippine boxing fans in Manila who jumped in joy to celebrate the victory of Manny Pacquiao against Adrien Broner on Sunday (Jan 20), comparing their 40-year-old idol to a “fine wine”.
Filipinos had been confident their champion Pacquiao would easily defend his welterweight title in Las Vegas and the boxer did not disappoint, earning a unanimous decision victory against an opponent 11 years his junior.
From children to the elderly, screaming and fist-pumping fans gathered together to watch the fight in the nation’s gymnasiums at traditional free public viewing events.
“Manny Pacquiao is like a fine wine. Gets better through the years. He can still throw flurry of punches for a 40 year old,” said Twitter user @gemmedgem.
“I was jumping in joy when I saw him because Manny Pacquiao is really my idol. Filipinos are happy and it gives us honour to have him as a boxer,” Jenny Gitgano, 56, told AFP after watching the bout in the capital city.
Pacquiao, dubbed the Philippine “national fist”, is considered a hero whose rise from high school dropout to millionaire world boxing champion in an unprecedented eight weight divisions is an enormous source of pride.
During his younger years, Pacquiao’s bouts brought the country to a standstill, with authorities saying traffic and crime virtually ceased.
While crowds have thinned in the twilight of Pacquiao’s career, hordes of fans still gathered in covered courts and even military camps to watch the fight which took place Sunday afternoon in the Philippine time zone.
Pacquiao is a reserve army colonel and an elected senator allied with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We thank our pound-for-pound King for not only bringing honour and glory to our flag, but for once again uniting all Filipinos worldwide,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Fans called on Pacquiao to run for president, even as the boxer said post-fight that he was not eyeing higher office.
“Manny Pacquiao for president! He is really our idol. We won’t stop supporting him,” port worker Elpidio Bagayones, 48, told AFP.
But some analysts expressed doubt that Pacquiao would secure a rematch with Floyd Mayweather – who watched the bout from ringside – following the Filipino’s 2015 loss, saying he failed to knock Broner down.
“He won clearly, but I’m not sure Floyd Mayweather lost any sleep after that, or is itching to jump in the gym for another fight,” Ring Magazine reporter Ryan Songalia told AFP.