Win wows fans, but not many came to see fight live
ROWS upon rows of seats were empty at the gymnasium in Barangay Lagao in General Santos City, a scene repeated in many areas in the country.
In Marikina City in Metro Manila, for instance, a large portion of the open-air venue for the live streaming of the bout between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and American Timothy Bradley was unoccupied. It was a sharp contrast to scenes in past Pacquiao fights when spectators had to climb trees to get a view of his match shown on a mobile LED screen at the same venue.
At Yayoy’s Grill on the Capitol Site in Cebu City, there were a few takers of its promo, said the owner, Raul Alcoseba. The restaurant had a lunch package of P300 (non-air-con) and P350 (air-con) for customers who wanted to watch the fight live.
“Only few customers came. It was very different from the previous fight of Pacman,” Alcoseba said.
He recalled that when Pacquiao fought with the undefeated American boxing champion, Floyd Mayweather Jr., in May last year, his restaurant was filled to the rafters.
At the 3,500-capacity General Santos gym, only about 2,000 people came to watch the third bout between Pacquiao and Bradley in four years. Even outside, where TV sets had been set up for those who could not be accommodated inside, the crowd was not as large as before.
Leticia Serranes, 39, said she tried to bring along some neighbors but was told they were not coming because the fight would not be exciting. “They were wrong,” said Serranes, among those jumping for joy each time her idol hit Bradley.
‘Waste of time’
Sebastian Madulo, a tricycle driver, said many believed it was a waste of time to watch because they had seen their previous encounters. “If it had been Mayweather, I believe the city will ground to a halt once more and people will have difficulty squeezing into the gym,” he said.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera blamed a busted air-con for the not-so-great crowd. People went instead to other places, such as Pacquiao’s gym in Barangay Tambler.
Elsewhere in Mindanao, the streets had the usual Sunday traffic—another indication of less interest in the fight.
“Why would I watch the fight of the person who called us gays worse than animals?” asked Rey Egos, of Bansalan, Davao del Sur province.
Jun Morales, village chair of Kapatagan in Santa Cruz town in Davao del Sur, said the prolonged drought had also taken its toll on the Pacquiao-Bradley match.
“The pay-per-view fee is at P999. People can’t afford that. They would rather buy rice,” Morales said, adding that most local officials were busy with efforts to put off the forest and grass fire on Mt. Apo.
In Tagum City in Davao del Norte province, motorcycle-for-hire driver Diomy Sumangyay said Pacquiao’s fight was no longer exciting. “It’s now just for the money. He doesn’t fight for the title anymore.”
In the town of Mlang in North Cotabato province, people seemed to have opted to work rather than view the fight at the gym.
Hernand Dapudong, a municipal employee, said the gym, which can accommodate at least 1,500 people, attracted just more than 300.
Traffic in major thoroughfares in Cebu City was cut only by half compared with the previous bouts of the Filipino boxer when hardly a vehicle could be seen on the streets.
Joel Garganera, village chair of Tinago, said only 600 came to the Tinago gym, which can hold 1,400 people.
At Ayala Center Cebu Cinema, the fight was shown in Cinema 5 for P500. Only a few came.
The convention center of the Mariners’ Court was half full.
In Quezon, a provincial government employee said the administrator of the Quezon Convention Center (QCC) in Lucena City decided not to have a free showing. QCC is a regular venue of free live streaming of Pacquiao fights.
“There’s no public clamor. It seems that most are not interested,” the employee said.
Dorotea Sanchez, a pancit (noodle) vendor, was dejected when she arrived at the deserted center on Sunday morning. She had cooked 6 kilograms of the dried noodles at dawn, hoping to have a good business from among boxing fans.
Sanchez said she lost the chance to earn between P500 and P700.
In Albay province, Gov. Joey Salceda said the opening of the Palarong Pambansa in Legazpi City on Sunday prevented the provincial government from sponsoring a free live viewing of the fight.
But Santo Domingo Mayor Herbie Aguas sponsored one at the town’s covered court. At least 2,000 people watched the bout.
The live feed of the fight was also broadcast in Cauayan and Santiago cities and other towns in Isabela province. Candidates who sponsored the broadcasts omitted their names from tarpaulins announcing the free show.
In Olongapo City, the fight was shown live at Rizal Triangle Multi Purpose Center, which drew a thousand fans who were treated to free pan de sal and coffee by organizers.
The interest in the fight may not be as high as before, but the outcome was enough to convince boxing fans that it was not time for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves.
Gilbert Camile, of Barangay Labangon in Cebu City, said Pacquiao showed that he was still in his best form when he knocked down Bradley twice and eventually won the fight.
Couple Alphonse and Yvette Yap also asked the ring icon not to disappoint fans who still want him to fight in the ring.
“His speed is still there,” said Alphonse, a nurse.
Ilonggo boxing fans agreed.
“He should not retire now. He is still at the top of his game,” said Gaudioso Geduspan, who was among the 50 boxing fans who watched the match at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Cinematheque in Iloilo City.
The 75-seat Cinematheque erupted in cheers and shouts, especially during the fifth round when Pacquiao and Bradley unleashed a flurry of punches. The cheers and shouts intensified as the match progressed and when Pacquiao knocked down Bradley in the ninth.
“Pacquiao had a good fight. He can still fight and I still want him to continue boxing,” said Augustus Alvarez, 71, a UPV alumnus.
But Alvarez is not a fan of Pacquiao as a politician. “I will not vote for him (for senator) because he cannot focus on his work.”
Pacquiao had announced that he would retire after the match as he prepared for the May 9 elections where he is running for a seat in the Senate.
In Catanduanes province, motorcycle mechanic Dexter Alcantara said: “It was a good fight. Aside from winning the fight against Bradley, his candidacy this May 9 surely received a boost as he made the Filipino people [proud].”
In Oriental Mindoro province, college professor Heisen Menor said while he was a Pacquiao fan, he was not happy with this latest victory.
“He [fought] … for the cash prize … and media mileage, which are not really for the country,” Menor said.
For bringing pride to the country, General Santos is preparing a hero’s welcome for Pacquiao. “This is not just his win but ours as Filipinos, too,” Mayor Rivera said. Reports from Allan Nawal, Orlando Dinoy, Frinston Lim, Williamor A. Magbanua and Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao; Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas; Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Mar S. Arguelles, Madonna T. Virola, Fernan Gianan and Jofel Joyce Lancion, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Anselmo Roque and Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Villamor Visayas Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon