Manila, QC fans stunned, dismayed but remain loyal, civil over Pacquiao loss
MANILA, Philippines — A stunned silence, followed by murmurs of disbelief, pervaded the SM Manila cinema 4 as boxing champ Manny Pacquiao lost his first match in seven years.
Surprisingly, the cinema crowd maintained a civil silence and did not join the booing as aired from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The audience’s disagreement, at least in Las Vegas, drowned out American Timothy Bradley as he was declared World welterweight champion by split decision over Pacquiao on Sunday noon.
As the Manila cinema audience got up to leave, most expressed a frustrated resignation: “Pacquiao didn’t want to punch in the last four rounds. How was he supposed to win?” one audience member loudly asked his friend.
“I knew he would lose. He didn’t knock Bradley out,” a woman was overheard telling her companion.
During the fight, the audience readily whooped and cheered whenever Pacquiao landed head shots and consecutive punches throughout the 12 rounds, leaving Bradley seemingly dazed.
But in the latter three rounds, frustrated cries of “Ano ba naman, Manny!” rang out in the dark theater. Also overheard were “This is a good fight. This is war,” by round 5, and begrudging admissions that “Bradley’s winning” in Round 9.
Some of the audience members, however, waited respectfully, even tersely, on their seats until Pacquiao was interviewed on the ring after the fight.
At least two were overheard muttering that the fight was arranged because Bradley was an American and had a homecourt advantage.
When a seemingly good-humored Pacquiao came onscreen and said: “I don’t know what happened,” the audience laughed in agreement, some noting: “Bradley only hit him on the gloves!”
“He seems to have accepted it. It’s in God’s will,” a Pacquiao fan noted, as he finally got up to leave with his friends.
Not all the audiences in Manila were as civil. No less than Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who had watched the fight in a free live screening at the jampacked San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, called the decision a “highway robbery.”
The dismayed mayor looked forward to a rematch and expressed belief “Pacquiao will surely knock Bradley out” by then.
Malate resident Edith Francisco, 49, maintained a stubborn loyalty for her countryman. “It’s still Pacquiao!” she declared, in Filipino. “Bradley fights dirty,” she said.
City hall employee Jerry Villagracia, 33, pointed out Pacquiao was “faster and stronger.” “Bradley was no match,” he said.
Lim said that despite the loss, Pacquiao would remain a sports icon worldwide.
At the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, the post-match scene was the same: the announcement of Manny Pacquiao’s defeat stunned his fans into silence as some curtly got up and walked away in disgust.
Others, in respect of the boxing champ, stood up to listen to the brief statements of Pacquiao and his opponent Timothy Bradley.
The coliseum, which was usually packed with spectators during basketball games, had some entire sections vacant as most chose to stay in the cheaper general admissions area.
For Eleazar Garcia, 50, he didn’t expect the Filipino boxer to lose to the younger Bradley, who only won the tenth round in his opinion.
“Maybe Manny’s stamina was severely affected. But I still expected him to win,” he said glumly.
At one point during the match, Garcia was heard commenting, “Come on Bradley, defend yourself!”
Asked if the loss would affect Pacquiao’s popularity, Garcia said the boxer’s political career might suffer.
Ricky Sta. Isabel, who came with his young daughter and wife all the way from Caloocan City, shared the same observation.
For him, Bradley’s punches barely connected, while Manny’s were all solid.
But he did note that Pacquiao seemed to hesitate at some moments, as if waiting for his opponent to try striking first.
“Maybe his being a Christian has softened him,” Sta. Isabel surmised.
During the match, Sta. Isabel was one of many fans seen jumping up and throwing punches, as if to mimic his hero.
Pacquiao’s successful hits on Bradley were usually met with collective and masculine shouts of joy or wild clapping, while his injuries were met with the crowd’s sympathetic gasps and murmurs.
Almost all did not see Pacquiao losing in such a manner, despite putting up a stellar fight.
Pilita Lumactud, 42, pointed out that even the spectators in Las Vegas were not satisfied with the judges’ split decision.
“It’s not just us Filipinos, but them as well. See? They are still waiting for an explanation because they can’t accept it,” she said, pointing to the screen.
She came to watch the much-awaited bout with her husband Rolando and other family members.
Lumactud added that the loss would have been easier to accept if Bradley knocked out Pacquiao.
Her husband, Rolando, however summed the sentiments of Pacquiao’s fans best: “Even with this loss, people will love him more. He is an icon. He will never lose the people’s sympathy and admiration.”
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