MANILA, Philippines – The king of the ring did it again. Filipino Manny Pacquiao, the world’s first boxer to win in eight weight divisions, trounced American pugilist 39-year-old Shane Mosley in their duel at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday (Sunday in the Philippines).
In a unanimous decision, Pacquiao was declared the champion, retaining his World Boxing Organization welterweight title after tracking down an overwhelmed and ever-retreating Mosley over 12 rounds.
Fighting for the second time since winning a seat in his country’s national congress last year, Pacquiao gained one-sided verdicts from all three judges — 119-108, 120-108 and 120-107.
Mosley, an 8-1 underdog against the 10-times world champion, slipped to 46-7-1 with 39 knockouts.
InterAksyon’s special correspondent in Las Vegas, Ali Atienza, said an estimated 100 Philippine congressmen were expected to catch the fight at the MGM Grand Arena. Pacquiao started his day by catching mass at the Mandalay Bay, Atienza reported, although even the odds-makers in gambling capital of the world agreed he didn’t need any more help: Odds had Pacquiao as a 9-1 favorite one hour before the fight.
It was Pacquiao’s 14th consecutive win since his loss to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, enhancing his status as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
After tentative first and second rounds, Mosley was knocked down in the third round by two hits to the head. He was on the back foot for the rest of the match.
Although Pacquiao’s style in this fight was not as frenetic as in his last bouts, Showtime’s announcers said Mosley was “too busy defending himself he couldn’t get anything off.”
While Pacquio tried to press the fight, the crowd in Las Vegas, eager for action, was booing Mosley by the seventh round.
By the end of the eighth, Mosley’s trainer urged his fighter to be “more aggressive, because you’re down too much.”
Pacquiao hit the canvas on the 10th, and Mosley was credited with a knock down, but replays showed that Mosley had stepped on the Filipino’s foot and pushed him. In any case, Pacquiao became more aggressive after the incident.
Before the two fighters made their way to the ring, loud chants of “Manny, Manny, Manny” rang out in the Garden Arena.
Mosley came out first, led by American rapper and actor LL Cool J, before Pacquiao followed suit with Jimi Jamison of U.S. rock band Survivor singing the group’s 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger.”
Filipinos in cinema halls, hotels, public parks and prison facilities were left jubilant on Sunday after Pacquiao outboxed Mosley.
“Manny is the greatest fighter in our boxing history,” Jay Salvador, 22, a sailor, told Reuters as a packed movie house in Mandaluyong City celebrated when Mosley hit the canvas in the third round.
“I cannot hide my disappointment because after the third round, I was expecting Manny to finish him off early. They should start looking for a stronger opponent for Manny. (Floyd) Mayweather (junior), you’re next.”
In Manila’s business district, hundreds of inmates watched the fight on a large screen, under tight guard from baton-wielding jail wardens and police, who separated rival gangs to prevent a clash.
There was a sea of colorful umbrellas in Marikina City in the capital as fans braved rains to get a better view of huge TV screens set up in a crowded public park.
“We’re happy that Manny won,” said Cresencia Betino, 39, who celebrated Mother’s Day watching the fight at a shopping mall in Pasay City.
“I don’t mind paying 400 pesos ($9) because it was worth it.”
Philippine President Benigno Aquino issued a congratulatory message from Jakarta, where he was attending the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit.
“There’s no doubt he is a real hero,” Aquino said, heaping praise on the champion who wore yellow gloves as part of his campaign to fight poverty in the Philippines.
Soldiers also took a break to watch the fight inside military bases across the archipelago, imposing an undeclared truce with Maoist guerrillas and Islamic militants.
Major-General Anthony Alcantara, army commander in Muslim areas on the southern island of Mindanao, said troops resumed patrols and security-related operations after the bout.
Police authorities have said the crime rates drop every time Pacquiao enters the ring. Ali Atienza, InterAksyon.com | Reuters