x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Boxing fans have to get an early start to support Manny Pacquiao

Restaurants are preparing to welcome fans for the 8am bout in which Manny Pacquiao will defend his welterweight title fight against Timothy Bradley.

DUBAI // Boxing fans will be up early and late to work today in order to watch Timothy Bradley challenge Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title fight.

Some restaurants are expected to open earlier than usual so they can show the highly anticipated bout, which is expected to start after 8am.

Many Filipino expatriates will be looking on with pride as Pacquiao tries to hold off the American challenger.

Nilo Sipalay, the supervisor at Goto King, said his Abu Dhabi restaurant turns wild when the fights come on. He expects 250 fans to turn up and said the staff will start to prepare around 4am.

Goto King, in Khalidiya Mall, will be open for the first fight - at 5am - between the Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and the American Teon Kennedy. The fight will be in Las Vegas.

"When the customers are watching the boxing, it's like they are the ones fighting," Mr Sipalay said. They get so excited."

Although Filipinos will make up the majority of the crowds, they are not the only boxing fans in the country.

"There will be mixed nationality," he said. "We will see Americans, Australians, Arabic and boxing fans from everywhere. Lots of them will be skipping work for the morning and other people have booked the day off in advance."

Mr Sipalay said the atmosphere is the main draw.

"Most people feel bored when they watch it at home. There is not as much excitement with one or two people but watching with more than 200 is more fun."

Elmer Villanueva, assistant manager at Tipanan Restaurant in Al Rigga in Dubai, said plans have been in place since last week.

"We already worked out the layout of the tables and we've had a few bookings too," he said,

There is always a full house for fights, he said. Guests gather around one of the four 32-inch televisions that will broadcast the fight on a Filipino channel.

Mr Villanueva expects 120 fans to turn up by 8am, but said Tipanan will be open to accommodate the earlier fights.

eharnan@thenational.ae