Abu Dhabi fans celebrate Pacquiao victory over Bradley
ABU DHABI // Filipino boxing fans in the capital erupted into wild cheers as their home hero Manny Pacquiao reclaimed the World Boxing Organisation welterweight title after 12 gruelling rounds on Sunday.
The 35-year-old eight-times world champion won a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley, 116-112, 116-112, 118-110.
The much-anticipated rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley was broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
At the Philippine House Restaurant on Fatima bint Mubarak Street on Sunday, more than 100 fans watched on four 42-inch flat-screen televisions.
Most fans had gathered at the restaurant as early as 6am to watch the support bouts but the main fight began at 9.20am.
The crowd cheered loudly and clapped when Pacquiao was shown on the screen, and later when he started throwing a flurry of punches.
“Pacquiao really deserves this victory,” said Edmundo Galvez, 45, a shopkeeper who has lived in Abu Dhabi for seven years. “You can definitely see the fire in him. He has indeed proved that he is once again one of the top welterweights.”
The two fighters first met in June 2012, with Bradley winning a controversial split decision, which was booed by the crowd. Bradley not only took the title from Pacquiao but ended the Filipino’s seven-year, 15-fight winning streak.
“Although we saw his incredible speed and elite footwork, I think his punching power is slowly being diminished by age,” said Mr Galvez. “Nevertheless, he has avenged his 2012 loss and showed he is a better fighter than Bradley.”
While Bradley was out to prove his contested win against Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer wanted to exact revenge for being on the wrong side of that split decision.
“Bradley is undoubtedly a great fighter,” said Ardy David, 36, an automation technician at an offshore facility for 10 years. “Pacquiao handed him his first defeat today. But everyone seems to agree that Pacquiao should have won the first one.”
Erdhee Esconde, 43, a technician at a desalination plant in Abu Dhabi, agreed that Pacquiao should have won the previous match.
“Pacquiao was well prepared for this fight,” he said. “He is an elite fighter and I think it’s now time for him to face Floyd Mayweather Jr.”
But he said the megafight was not likely to happen any time soon.
“Mayweather will continue to come up with excuses not to fight Pacquiao,” Mr Esconde said.
“I think he does not want to risk his unbeaten record by fighting the most accomplished southpaw in boxing history.”
Angelito Abucjo, a 40-year-old electrical engineer, has not missed any of Pacquiao’s bouts since moving to the UAE eight years ago.
“I was really looking out for a knockout, which didn’t happen,” he said. “But, just the same, we know who actually won the fight in 2012, when two judges scored in favour of Bradley.”
Pacquiao once again brought honour and pride to his country, said Reggie Villero, 26, a catering worker in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Villero arrived at the restaurant at 6.15am with his cousin Jesus Bendoy, 26, and friend Benedict Manolong, 42.
He was highly optimistic that Pacquiao would come out victorious and knock out Bradley in the 10th round.
But when the fight results were announced, Mr Villero admitted he was unconvinced by Pacquiao’s win.
“It was totally unexpected,” Mr Villero said. “He’s not the same fighter he was several years ago. I believe his age has slowed him down against Bradley.”