MANILA – The Philippines came to a standstill as millions of people watched Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Shane Mosley on Sunday, but celebrations were subdued as an anticipated knockout failed to materialize.
Across pubs that offered special pay-per-view screenings, and in open-air parks, sports stadiums and even in jails, people of all ages in the boxing-crazy country intently witnessed Pacquiao slowly demolish the American over 12 rounds.
“It was a great win again for Manny, but everyone wished he had knocked out Mosley for a more emphatic win,” said Superintendent Clement Laboy, warden at the city jail at Manila’s Makati financial district.
In a rare show of camaraderie, armed jail guards mingled with the facility’s nearly 500 inmates as a huge screen beamed live blow-by-blow coverage of the big fight from Las Vegas.
The Philippines, an impoverished country of 94 million people, routinely comes to a halt when its most famous export steps into the ring — and true to form roads were empty, shops closed and many taxis refused fares.
In Manila’s notorious Tondo slums, local officials put up a huge screen to show the fight for free as rowdy men waving a Philippine flag passed around shots of the local gin.
Police reported a low crime rate while the fight was on. Muslim separatist rebels and troops in the southern Philippines silenced their guns in an informal truce to watch the action, both sides said.
President Benigno Aquino congratulated Pacquiao for defending his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown and hailed the 32-year-old fighter as the Philippines’ undisputed champion.
“He showed discipline, determination and the Filipino’s greatness,” Aquino said in a statement. “There is no doubt that Manny Pacquiao is a hero, the pound-for-pound king that continues to make our country proud.”
But at Manila’s popular Oarhouse pub, where the staff wore yellow shirts to match Pacquiao’s gloves, not all of the patrons were ecstatic.
“I had expected Pacquiao to knock him out at five or six rounds,” businessman Kenneth Lim said. “It was a win, but it could have been better.”
Pacquiao’s deserved win extended his victory streak to 14 bouts.