Pacquiao Wins Seventh World Title, His Fans Become Global
Mixed Fight Crowd in Filipino Restaurant Shows Pacman’s Not Just for Filipinos
New America Media, News Report/, Anchor/Reporter: Odette Keeley / Video: Mike Siv & Min Lee Posted: Nov 15, 2009
DALY CITY, Calif. -- The roar of the crowd inside Filipino restaurant Gerry’s Grill was deafening, as referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto 55 seconds into the 12th round, declaring the Filipino people’s champ the winner.
Pacquiao defeated Cotto with a technical knockout [TKO] in their “Firepower" match Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. In doing so, he cemented his stature as the world’s best boxer, pound-for-pound. With this welterweight championship victory, he made history as the first professional boxer to win world titles in seven different weight classes.
The fight went the distance, and Cotto initiated jabs and punches in the early rounds. But analysts say that by the seventh round, it was clear that the “Pacman’s” unrelenting punches, speed and power was just too much for his Puerto Rican opponent. Though he was bigger and had a stronger punch, Cotto’s bloodied and swollen face in the later rounds was telling.
After winning, Pacquiao knelt in the corner of the ring, praying and giving thanks to God, a ritual with which he begins and ends every fight. Though defeated, Cotto hugged and congratulated Pacquiao, his sportsmanship shining through.
Fans watching here on TV were not surprised. At the beginning of round 11, Filipino finance manager Eli Abante said, “Manny is just too fast. I did expect the fight to just last eight rounds, but Cotto did give him a tough fight." But he had no doubt who was going to win this battle. “Cotto’s done. He’s finished,” said Abante.
Gerry’s Grill is one of the many restaurants and bars that decided to pay nearly $2,000 to show the fight for their customers on four huge HDTV screens. “Even if this means we might not get a profit out of tonight’s fight," said co-owner Chris Chan, "the most important thing for us was to be able to carry the tradition of Gerry's Grill in showcasing Filipino culture, especially this very significant achievement of Pacquiao aiming to get his 7th world title. At the same time, we want to promote our business and get our name out there.”
The restaurant opened last August in Daly City, dubbed “Manilatown, USA,” because it boasts the highest concentration of Filipinos of any mid-sized city in North America. It was the right venue for a community eager to see their idol burnish his record.
Pacquiao is beloved by his countrymen, especially as citizens of the typhoon-ravaged Philippines still recover from deadly floods and landslides. He dedicated his fight to them.
Filipino entrepreneur Jess Lapid had no doubt Pacquiao would win because of his unmatched speed and power punches. He is also confident that Manny's victory will mean that typhoon victims in the Philippines will again be helped by Pacquiao. Filipina fan and administrative assistant Ruvi Dayao was drained after 12 rounds of cheering on her idol. She said she wasn’t too worried that the fight lasted as long as it did, but she was just getting anxious for Pacquiao to throw that definitive punch and win. "He's such a role model for Filipinos in the Philippines. They're all celebrating now, happy and proud and holding their head high," Dayao enthuses.
Their joy at Pacquiao’s win was indeed shared by millions of their countrymen in the Philippines, which as ABS-CBN News, one of Manila’s biggest broadcasting networks reported, “erupted into a frenzy of joy on Sunday [Manila time, Saturday evening in the U.S.] following the victory of People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao over Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, in a fight that once again brought the nation to a standstill.”
Meantime, according to Inquirer.net, a Filipino online news website, the mayor of Pacquiao’s original hometown, General Santos City, Philippines, promises a grand hero’s welcome for his victory homecoming.
But many non-Filipinos, including the maximum-capacity and diverse crowd inside Gerry’s Grill, were also rooting for him, illustrating his growing multi-ethnic and global appeal.
From an African entrepreneur to a Mexican-Irish and Taiwanese couple, to a Puerto Rican internet marketer and an Indonesian high-tech worker, they and a majority of Filipinos, all held their collective breaths as the fight started; went wild when Pacquiao knocked down Cotto twice -- once in the third round and again in the fourth; and loudly winced whenever he was struck and cornered by Cotto. As the tension reached a fever pitch, spectators started chanting, “Manny, Manny!” as Pacquiao landed a flurry of punches against Cotto in the last round.
Among those rooting the loudest for Pacquiao was Indonesian Feldo Nartapura, who seemed to cheer for the Filipino fighter's every jab and punch, waving his “Pacman” shirt around the room. He wouldn’t even hear of Manny not winning this fight, saying that simply won’t happen, because Manny is just too fast, too powerful. Nartapura adds, "It's an honor to root for him, because he [Pacquiao] has such a great spirit. He's a little guy, just like me!"
Aaron Glinski, a Puerto Rican-African-American, watched the fight with a group of Filipinos and Asians rooting for the Filipino champion. He says he was torn between the two fighters, given that he and Cotto are Puerto Rican, but he said he couldn’t help but admire Pacquiao’s incredible talent. "Cotto was tough, but Manny proved he was the better fighter," adds Glinski.
Eliseo Ortegon, a pantry worker at Gerry’s Grill is Mexican-Nicaraguan and says he supports the Filipino champion because "so many people are behind him, not just Filipinos. It's like a hometown feeling, I like that." Ortegon adds, "I don't think that I'm going against my Hispanic heritage, because I like how he brings people together." Ortegon also admires Pacquiao’s values, especially his love of family and country.
Moe Jaga, an entrepreneur originally from Kenya, feels the same way. “I see myself in him [Pacquiao].” he said. Jaga explains: "He came from nothing, he represents what a lot of people are, so he represents me and where I come from. I relate to him very well." He says more than Pacquiao’s talent as a fighter, “it’s his core values, especially his love of family that I admire the most.”
Allyson Lardizabal, a Filipina nursing student said the biggest reason Pacquiao won this fight -- just like all of his past 11 bouts – is his heart. “He is the heart of the Philippines,” she said. "Filipinos have been undermined in so many ways, but when we have a chance to shine in something, just like Manny, we do so in a big way.”
Many of these fans believe Pacquiao is ready to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr., from whom Pacquiao snatched the title of "pound-for-pound king." They can’t wait for the showdown that’s now the biggest buzz in the boxing world after Manny’s historic win Saturday night.
When asked in an ESPN interview about this much-awaited bout, Pacquiao said he is leaving this decision to boxing promoters. He announced that for now, “I will be going on vacation and spend time with my family.”
Odette Keeley hosts and produces video segments for New America Media's TV program on COMCAST ON DEMAND,"New America Now." and the news round-up for "New America Now" on 91.7 FM KALW. Mike Siv produces video for New America Media's online news exchange and TV program on COMCAST ON DEMAND,"New America Now." Min Lee is a video producer for YO! and NAM.
You can email Odette Keeley at: email@example.com
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