MANILA, Philippines– Their hometown hero may be nursing his wounds, but Manny Pacquiao fans in the Philippines are already calling for a rematch.
“We are not satisfied,” said Gel Bucani, 19, a Manila shopkeeper. “Rematch!” she added.
“For all of us Filipinos it’s disappointing. He did everything, but nothing happened,” said Mike Camenza, 23, who insisted he was still proud of the Philippines’ most famous son.
Love for the “Pacman” runs deep here, even after his loss to American Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.
The country’s President, Benigno Aquino III, issued a statement Monday via his press spokesman thanking “Pacman” for his efforts.
“Filipinos can hold their heads up high… Pacquiao did us all proud when he stood his ground against one of the best boxers of our time, Floyd Mayweather,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.
Coloma said the President also thanked Pacquiao “for serving as an inspiration to every Filipino in overcoming the daily challenges in the pursuit of a better life and future.
“He is a worthy exemplar that the Filipino is able to compete in the global arena — for as long as there is a level playing field.”
The statement also appeared to suggest it was time for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves.
“Hopefully, Manny may now be able to devote more time with his family and that he is able to maintain good health that will serve him in good stead in all his future endeavors.”
Pacquiao is a huge star in his home country, where his rags-to-riches story connects to locals.
He is not just a boxer, but also a congressman, singer, basketball coach and owner of everything from a bottled water brand to a shopping mall.
Millions in the Philippines watched the fight, which was broadcast on all major television networks, shown in stadiums and parks, and even in movie theaters. Even a heat index of upwards of 40 degrees in some parts of the country wasn’t enough keep the fans away.
Some 10,000 gathered for a free screening in a basketball stadium in the Manila neighborhood of San Andres.
The crowd responded boisterously when Pacquiao entered the ring to a self-recorded song, entitled “I will fight for the Filipinos.” They cheered every time Pacquiao landed a punch and rarely missed an opportunity to boo his opponent, at times breaking out into chants of “Manny, Manny.”
Celebrity attendees at the match in Las Vegas — including Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan — were also popular with the crowd, though they didn’t have much time for Justin Bieber, who had thrown his support behind Mayweather.
No signal scare
Near disaster struck for the San Andres viewers in the 8th round, when the local satellite feed cut out and the big screen at the end of the stadium broadcast the message “no signal.” Some frustrated fans started to leave the stadium, before the signal was restored to a reception of joyous shouts in the 10th round.
“It was just a technical problem,” explained Sally Ramillo, duty officer of the San Andres Sports Complex.
After twelve rounds without a knockout, fans held out hope that the judges would rule in Pacquiao’s favor, but it was not to be.
Disappointed after the unanimous points decision in favor of Mayweather, they quickly shuffled out of the stadium.
Less than two hours later, fans on the street were not eager to talk about the blow to their idol. But they were sure of one thing: they definitely want a rematch.
By Ivan Watson and Pamela Boykoff