Raucous cheers erupted from boxing fans in Metro Manila who jumped in joy to celebrate the victory of Manny Pacquiao against Adrien Broner on Sunday, 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 honor to have him as a boxer,” Jenny Gitgano, 56, said after watching the bout.
Pacquiao, dubbed the “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.
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 honor 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, said.
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 said.
In an interview after 12 rounds of boxing, Pacquiao called out Mayweather, saying he is willing to have a rematch with the American boxer.
“Tell him to come back to the ring, and we will fight,” Pacquiao said.
Mayweather, however, looked away from the camera, declining the public a nod on Pacquiao’s challenge.
Pacquiao has fought 70 matches, with 61 wins, seven losses, and two draws.
Lawmakers from both houses of Congress congratulated the senator.
“He is a champion of the ages, winning championships throughout his two and a half decades of boxing and defying father time,” said Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Pacquiao’s latest victory was proof of his resilience, strength, determination, and discipline.
“He is a proof that nothing is imposible if you put your heart and mind to it. May Manny continue to serve as an inspiration to all Filipinos here and around the world,” he said.
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualez lauded Pacquiao for “bringing continued honor, glory and recognition to the Philippines.”
“Senator Pacquiao’s victory is a testament to the faith and resiliency of the Filipino spirit,” she said. with Nat Mariano, Macon Ramos-Araneta and Rio N. Araja