ABU DHABI // Bleary-eyed Filipinos who got up early to watch the Manny Pacquiao boxing match were rewarded when their favourite fighter won a record eighth world title yesterday morning.
Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, defeated Mexican Antonio Margarito in Texas after 12 rounds to win the WBC super welterweight championship, adding to his previous titles and cementing his status as the world's best pound-for-pound boxer.
At the Goto King restaurant in Khalidiya Mall, more than 170 Filipino expatriates gathered to watch the fight. The first of the fans arrived at 5.45am to watch the two fights before the main event, which started at 8.30am, said Amir Zalzo, 34, the manager of the restaurant.
"They were very enthusiastic the moment they heard the national anthem and the introduction to the Manny match," said Mr Zalzo.
"The two fights before that, they were a bit sleepy and were waiting for the main event to start."
Lerma Leyco, 54, a property agent, arrived at the restaurant at 6am with five friends to watch the boxing icon, who is also a congressman in the Philippines.
"I was over-excited," she said. "One is never sleepy before a Manny Pacquiao fight."
She added that fans got their money's worth because Pacquiao fought Margarito for so long.
"Normally, from my own analysis, I have seen that he finishes in a few rounds but this time, we went for 12 rounds," she said.
"It was worth it for everyone who watched the match from around the world."
Joseph Lee, 46, an ice skating coach at Zayed Sports City, used the opportunity to arrive an hour early at work after watching the fight so he could announce Pacquiao's win to his colleagues.
Mr Lee said he was not tired after waking up early to watch his favourite boxer punch his way to victory.
"From the start, I knew Manny would win," said Mr Lee. "I could tell after I saw the first punch that Margarito threw at Manny. Manny could've won easily. But he didn't want his opponent to fall down so quickly."