DESPITE the loss of Senator Manny Pacquiao in the WBO welterweight match against Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, July 2, 2017, he is still a hero, Negrense officials said.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said the “Battle of Brisbane” was a “close fight,” adding that it was unfortunate that the “people’s champ” was defeated by Horn via unanimous decision.
He said, however, that Filipino boxing fans should still “laud and support” Pacquiao for his performance.
“To millions of his followers, friends and family, he remains a sports hero being the only eight-division boxing champion of the world,” he said.
“Manny is not new to this situation. In his career, he suffered many defeats, but he managed to re-emerge better, stronger,” he added.
Horn (17-0-1, 11 knockouts) won his first championship while this was the first time Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) lost since 2015 when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The bloodbath, as both fighters suffered serious cuts in the title fight, finished with the scores of 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 from the three judges.
For Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, the fight was “rigged” to ensure another match.
“If all scorecards were 115-113 for Horn, I would give it a benefit of the doubt. But 117-111 smells like this fight was rigged to make sure Pacman fights again, and again,” he said. "He already said he will accept a rematch. Let this be his last!"
Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, who watched the fight in Silay City with Mayor Mark Golez and Abang-Lingkod party-list Representative Stephen Paduano, said he thought Pacquiao won the fight.
“It was a close fight, but I had Pacquiao ahead especially after the last closing rounds,” Benitez said, adding that there might be a rematch.
Paduano said it’s time for the 38-year-old Pacquiao to hang up his boxing gloves as “age is catching up with him.”
“Just an unsolicited advice, it’s time for the Filipino pride to retire... We can see it in this fight and even in his previous fight, he is slowing down. It’s like there’s no aggressiveness. The Round 9 of this fight proves that,” he said.
He said though that the Filipinos should thank Pacquiao for “giving us pride.”
The decision on the Pacquiao-Horn bout was met with oppositions online, with many saying the people's champ was "robbed" as he "clearly" won the fight.
According to punch statistics, Pacquiao connected on 182 total punches compared to Horn's 92. The Filipino boxing icon also landed 123 power punches while his opponent only has 73.
Pacquiao just shrugged off his supporters’ claim, saying he will not question the decision and that Horn deserves to win the title.
In Bacolod City, Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran joined the public in watching the free live viewing at the Bacolod Arts, Youth, and Sports Center.
An estimated 10,000 people occupied the three venues, Bays Center and the gymnasiums of Barangays Granada and Handumanan, for free viewing sponsored by the City Government.
About 7,000 watched at the Bays Center, 2,000 in Barangay Handumanan, and 1,000 in Barangay Granada, said Executive Assistant Butch Soliguen.
Before the much-anticipated fight, Leonardia and Familiaran waved the flag on the stage in Bays Center as they showed support to the Filipino boxer, who is an adopted son of Bacolod.
In Pacquiao’s previous fights, Leonardia had either held the boxing champion’s belt or the country’s flag inside the ring. The flag can now be seen at the Mayor’s Office, he said.
Since Leonardia was not able to personally witness the fight in Australia due to the delay in the processing of his visa, he texted Pacquiao to wish him the best of luck.
Reacting to Pacquiao’s loss, Leonardia said he cannot believe that Pacquaio was defeated.
“I cannot also believe that it was based on a unanimous decision,” the mayor said. “I thought the fight will be finished on the ninth round, but Manny failed to sustain the following rounds.”
However, Pacquiao still managed to show sportsmanship during the fight, he said.
The mayor said Pacquiao was fighting a taller, heavier, and younger opponent, who is also probably hungrier for victory than him.
“For Horn, it was going to be a life-changing event for him,” he added.
“Let us look forward to the next fight which is more anticipated and probably more exciting,” Leonardia said.
Asked if Pacquiao should already retire, the mayor said the Filipino icon can still continue his boxing career because of his abilities.
“He is not the Manny Pacquiao 10 years ago but he can still fight. He is the face of the Philippines, the Manny legend will still continue,” he said.
For his part, Familiaran said he did not expect that Pacquiao will be defeated.
“He used to be strong, but this time he is aging,” the vice mayor added.
Former Bacolod City mayor Monico Puentevella, who watched the fight in Brisbane, said he believes Pacquiao didn't expect Horn “to be this strong. He probably underestimated this guy until the first bell rang.”
"Hometown decisions can be harsh but that's boxing. And age has also caught up with him in some ways. Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. What’s exciting is, in case there is a rematch. Big money and I think Las Vegas should have it next time to avoid hometown decisions," Puentevella added.
Puentevella, however, said it depends if Pacman still wants to fight.
“He has nothing to prove. It can be risky for him now,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, acting director of Bacolod City Police Office, said the city was generally peaceful during the hours of the Pacquiao-Horn match, and there was zero crime incident. (with reports from MAP)