Manny Pacquiao, 29, is considered the greatest sports hero this country has ever had. Filipinos were glued to their television sets as Pacquiao claimed victory over De La Hoya. Restaurants and movie theaters were filled with mostly Filipinos, cheering Pacquiao and taunting his opponent, while pedicab and bus drivers stopped plying their routes, to the consternation of some commuters.
His victory over De La Hoya, who surrendered after the eighth round of a 12-round fight, cemented his legendary status, which had been buttressed by his humble beginnings (he dropped out of school when he was 12, sold cigarettes in the streets and turned to boxing in order to survive) as well as his reputation for generosity (he reportedly spent $700,000 for tickets to the match that he gave out to friends and relatives).
To many Filipinos, Pacquiao is the embodiment of a dream fulfilled. Across the country, boxing stables are filled with young men who had run away from their homes in the provinces in order to train to be boxers - many of them hoping to emulate Pacquiao. He has almost single-handedly made boxing the national sport in what used to be a basketball-crazy nation.
"Manny lives up to his billing. He is truly the people's champ," said John Nery, a writer who has written profiles of the boxer. "But I think he is also teaching his millions of fans a valuable life lesson. Talent, even of world-class quality, is not enough. You need discipline."
Prior to the match, Pacquiao had been deemed the underdog against the heavier, taller and more experienced De La Hoya. But his training and preparation bordered on the obsessive, many sportswriters had said, with reports depicting him as a hungry boxer determined to prove his nonbelievers wrong.
Congratulations! to Manny Pacquaio for another Philippine Victory. I am sure my father was happy knowing this news. My father is big fan of Manny Pacquiao ever since. He is always excited of Pacquiao's fight. Were proud of you Pacquaio.