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‘Wow, wow, wow!’ Philippines goes wild for ‘force at 40’ Manny Pacquiao

/ 04:42 PM July 21, 2019
Manny Pacquiao Philippines

Filipino fans watch Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao fight agains Keith Thurman from the US, at a covered basketball court in Manila on July 21, 2019, during their world welterweight boxing championship in Las Vegas. – Pacquiao rolled back the years with a vintage display to defeat reigning WBA welterweight champion Thurman by split decision in a thrilling 12-round battle. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines–Fans in the Philippines on Sunday roared their approval and rose to their feet imitating the punches of Manny Pacquiao as they declared that their idol was still a boxing force at the age of 40 with his stunning victory over American Keith Thurman.

Filipinos from street vendors to lawmakers went wild, pumping their fists in the air during the first round of the welterweight fight as Pacquiao floored the WBA champion 10 years his junior, and went on to win by split decision.

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READ: Pacquiao captures WBA super welterweight crown after split decision over Thurman

Despite Thurman’s threat to send Pacquiao into retirement in the Las Vegas showdown, fans of the eight-division world champion were thrilled to see him eat his words as they packed into gyms, military camps and movie theatres all over the country to watch the fight.

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“It was wow, wow, wow! He is amazing. He showed himself a true Filipino, a hero,” 51-year-old Raquel Sanders told AFP after watching the bout in a Manila sports complex.

The excitement also lit up the online world with fans in the social media-obsessed nation using the hashtag #StillA40rce.

Filipinos cheer at the announcement of Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao winning via a split decision over Keith Thurman of the United States in their WBA welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Arena which was beamed live via satellite from Las Vegas Sunday, July 21, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. Pacquiao won via a split decision to deal Thurman his first loss in his boxing career. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

“Senator Pacquiao proved that age is just a number and (he) still can make another legend,” said Twitter user @rinrin_irene.

Pacquiao is considered a national hero by many as his athletic feats have put the Philippines on the boxing map.

READ: ‘An inspiration to Filipinos’: AFP, PNP laud Pacquiao for win vs Thurman

His rags-to-riches rise from high school dropout to millionaire champion is a source of inspiration in a nation mired in poverty.

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In Pacquiao’s heyday, authorities said his fights stopped traffic and crime.

But Pacquiao, also an elected senator, stirred controversy when he entered politics as he endorsed the death penalty and issued gay slurs in 2016 for which he apologized for.

Filipino fans Manny Pacquiao

Filipino fans congratulate each other after watching a WBA Welterweight title fight between Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman of the United States at the MGM Grand Arena which was beamed live via satellite from Las Vegas Sunday, July 21, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. Pacquiao won via a split decision to deal Thurman his first loss in his boxing career. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman hailed his ally’s victory.

“Our pound-for-pound King did not show any signs of intimidation as he embodied what a Filipino spirit is all about – a fighter,” Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Some Pacquiao fans said while their idol had proven his mettle, he showed signs of aging.

READ: Pacquiao’s win is a victory of Philippines — Palace

“He can still fight but not a long bout because he gets tired. A younger fighter would have more endurance than an older fighter,” said Willieboy Ramos, 50.

Pacquiao, who reversed a 2016 decision to retire, repeatedly says boxing is his passion and he still feels young.

Philippine boxing chief Ed Picson said only Pacquiao could decide on his future.

“His place in world boxing as a legend is secure … He has nothing more to prove,” said Picson, secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines.

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TAGS: Boxing, Manila, Manny Pacquiao, Philippines, Sports
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