A crowd of more than 500 packed the T.G.I.F. pub at Glorietta in Makati yesterday ready to shout themselves hoarse for Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao only to find their voices frozen in their throats by the middle rounds from the agility, hand speed and sheer craftiness of the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Instead of bursting out of the place in celebration and dancing in the streets, the people, half of them invited guests by the sports website Spin.ph to its viewing party, slowly rose from their seats with pained smiles on their faces and quietly left after Mayweather came away with a clear unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The official ringside punch stats saw Mayweather connecting 148 times in the much-awaited 12-round world welterweight championship to Pacquiao’s 81.
Though the fight started slowly, it progressed into something that it has been advertised to be, with Pacquiao having his finest moment in the fourth round after staggering Mayweather with a vicious left and finishing with a flurry of furious left-right hooks to the head and body.
At ringside, a galaxy of stars that included Robert de Niro, Christian Bale, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Sting, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield roared with the intermittent action, while in front of several 65-inch Samsung TVs at T.G.I.F, San Miguel Beer center Junemar Fajardo, consensus No. 1 draft pick Moala Tautuaa of Cebuana Lhuillier and Barako Bull coach Koy Banal, among other local celebrities, joined the deafening applause every time Pacquiao pins a red light on his ever moving target.
But the noise decibel steadily leveled off as Pacquiao continued to miss badly and Mayweather used his reach advantage the way Antonio Margarito and Oscar De La Hoya were never able to, peppering Pacquiao with right jabs and occasional left straights to the head.
Four times during the eighth round, Pacquiao launched a full assault at an immobile Mayweather on the ropes, and four times Mayweather shook his head imperiously at the token attack.
In the end, a polite applause from the gathered hundreds filled the place as Mayweather raised his right hand in triumph and the waning seconds of the last round signaled the final gasps of the richest fight in boxing history which took five years to put together but only about eight rounds to tear down.
Fajardo would hear none of it however.
“Ginawa naman niya ang lahat pero maganda lang talaga depensa ni Mayweather – takbo ng takbo e,” said Fajardo, whose team faces Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Carnival on Wednesday when the PBA Governors’ Cup unfolds tomorrow.
The Fil-Tongan Tautuaa, who celebrated his 26th birthday recently, displayed his boxing acumen by saying Pacquiao could have done a better job countering Mayweather’s mobility, something the post-fight interviewer harped at.
“Manny’s normally a more aggressive fighter,” Tautuaa said. “Maybe he just wasn’t able to adjust quickly enough to Mayweather’s style. But I’m sure they did everything necessary to prepare for the fight.”
Both he and Fajardo agreed Pacquiao may have at least one more fight in him, although not necessarily against Mayweather.
Pacquiao’s cautiousness at wading in as he normally does may be out of respect, Banal said, for Mayweather’s punching power and the K.O. the eight-division world champion suffered in the sixth round against Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter three years ago.
“Maybe,” said Banal. “It could be in his mind. He learned his lesson siguro kaya mas careful siya ngayon.”
The tables are now mostly empty at the scene of the pay-per-view party, with the giant monitors showing cable programs, hip-hop music blaring out of the ceiling speakers and the drawn curtains revealing increased traffic flow in the heart of Metro Manila’s business district.
Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., life across the country has started moving again.