Hundreds of Filipinos in the UAE gathered to watch their national hero lose his welterweight crown in a controversial early-morning fight.
'Wrong result' criticised in Pacquiao bout
DUBAI // More than 150 boxing fans crammed into Tipanan Restaurant yesterday morning to watch Filipino Manny Pacquiao controversially lose his WBO welterweight crown to the American challenger Timothy Bradley.
Shouts and high-pitched screams of disbelief rang through the crowded venue in Satwa after the announcement there was a new champion at the end of the 12 three-minute rounds. "I didn't expect this. Manny was clearly the winner," said Carlos Fernandez, from the Philippines.
The general reaction was disbelief after the early morning bout, broadcast live from Las Vegas.
The black bin liners on the windows, placed to block any glare on the television screens for the morning event, were taken down as the fans poured back on to Al Diyafah street, rubbing their eyes in the rising morning heat.
Mr Fernandez, 28, a retail sales assistant, had taken the morning off work and was disappointed. "Even Evander Holyfield shook his head in disbelief in the crowd [on TV]. At least it is not just Filipinos who think this is the wrong result," he said.
The overwhelmingly Filipino crowd, who started to fill up the darkened restaurant from 7am for a good seat, cheered loudly and confidently in the early rounds when their 33-year-old compatriot put in a number of convincing combinations against the undefeated American fighter.
Each punch landed received a roar of approval from the fans.
There was no one shouting for Bradley - only laughs when the slow-motion replays between rounds showed the force of Pacquiao's left.
After round seven, Bradley, 28, adapted to the Filipino and got in close with a number of jab combinations, despite a weak foot that he said he had twisted in an earlier round.
The audience was quiet and watched with arms folded as the rounds went on.
"Nothing is for granted yet," said one onlooker after the eighth round.
As the verdict was delivered, fans looked at each other in disbelief.
Pacquiao was deemed the winner by only one of the three fight judges.
"I really don't know what to think," said Fernando Cruz, who was taking a day off from working at a logistics company.
His wife Linda, 34, said Pacquiao landed lots of punches and Bradley was not worthy of the title.
"There must be a rematch. That was not right," she said.
Mr Cruz said decisions in boxing were not always straightforward.
Pacquiao said after the fight that he was not hurt by any of Bradley's punches.
"I don't know how it happened," Mr Cruz said.
There will be a rematch in November, and that will be more difficult for Pacquiao, according to Mr Cruz.
"There will be a lot of pressure on him and he is not getting any younger," he said.
"But he has fought hard in the past and this was a bad decision. Hopefully he will right some wrongs in the rematch."
Gerrg Paunil, from the Philippines, said he was not used to watching the national hero lose.
"It's been seven years," he said, referring to when Pacquiao last lost, to Erik Morales in March 2005.
"Even out of the 12 rounds, only three of them went to Bradley I'd say," Mr Paunil added.
But he was not ready to give up on the boxer just yet.
"There are more fights left in him. This rematch will be something and he should regain the title," he said.
Clayton Sum, 51, from China, was one of the few Bradley fans, and said the American looked tough in the build-up and during the bout.
"In the end, all great fighters come to an end," he added. "Paccy has a few fights left in him but his age is catching up and there's always younger, hungrier fighters coming through. He's had seven good years at the top with seven good belts. What else does he want?"