MANILA, January 23 2006 (BULLETIN) MANNY Pacquiao-Erik Morales grudge rematch in Las Vegas yesterday was likened to a European soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish League or a Manchester United and Chelsea showdown in the Premier League. Everything almost stopped.

There was no title at stake but the fight drew huge attention — perhaps bigger than last month’s SEA Games — that it nearly deserted some of the country’s major throughfares, especially in Gen. Santos City where Pacquiao was born and raised to become a boxing icon.

Though some owners momentarily closed their shops, it did not stop others from setting up their televisions in markets and barber shops to witness what could be the biggest fight by a Filipino in the international arena this year.

In Quiapo alone, hundreds of fans, watched the match on a drug store’s large advertising screen in front of the church as if they were on a picnic. Even taxi and jeepney drivers also took time out to watch the match unmindful whether they will earn something for the day or not.

Some restaurants in Makati, even the trendiest ones, put giant screens to accomodate their customers whom they promised comfortable viewing of the fight. Even small carinderias made a killing for the day as owners put up television sets in a corner to attract customers.

There, they winced and groaned each time Pacquiao got hit but shouted in triumph everytime the Filipino idol scored a point or two.

So when Pacquiao scored a TKO win, everybody went wild, including Pacquiao’s No. 1 supporter — President Arroyo.

Some of Arroyo’s political opponents and supporters joined few hundred spectators to watch the match on a theater screen. The rival politicians erupted in joy, some shaking hands, as he triumphed.

Eid Kabalu, spokesman of a Muslim separatist group in the country’s restive south, said he and many of his comrades rejoiced over Pacquiao’s win.

"There is no doubt we can be united over some things. We don’t have to quarrel all the time," he said via telephone.

Some gamblers who won big celebrated early. Drinks were aplenty.

"I join Filipinos from every corner of the Philippines and the world over in congratulating Manny Pacquiao on his very convincing victory," Arroyo said after watching the match on television.

"Manny’s triumph exemplifies the indominatable fighting spirit of the Filipino not just in the field of sports but also in every field of struggle for excellence," she said.

Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel, led several Filipino politicians and prominent personalities in watching the fight live in in Las Vegas. (With reports from AP and AFP)

196 punches did Morales in The Bulletin

LAS VEGAS — Sometimes, numbers do lie. Just like in their first fight, Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales threw punches in bunches Saturday night that when referee Kenny Bayless stepped in after the Filipino scored a second knockdown in the 10th round, there were a total of 1,439 punches let loose with 380 finding their target.

Pacquiao unloaded a total of 795 punches as against Morales’ 644, according to CompuBox which monitored and recorded every blow thrown in the super-featherweight brawl that left a huge crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center on its feet.

Of the 894 thrown by Pacquiao, 196 connected, while of the 644 that Morales released, 184 landed.

Morales posted more points in the jabs department, throwing 303 and landing 96 for 32 percent.

Pacquiao had only 258, only 25 of which connecting for a measly 10 percent.

It wasn’t even a different story in the power-punch department.

Pacquiao threw 537 power blows and managed to land 171 for 32 percent, while Morales came up with 321 and succeeded in connecting 107 for 33 percent.

But it was truly different in actual combat as evidenced by Pacquiao’s demolition job on Morales.

In their first fight that ended with Morales winning on a decision, Pacquiao threw 894 punches but managed to land only 217 for 24 percent. In contrast, Morales had 714 and connected with 265 for 37 percent.

Arum praises Pacquiao  The Bulletin

LAS VEGAS — Promoter Bob Arum, whose company Top Rank, promotes a bevy of top fighters including Erik Morales, had nothing but kind words for Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao.

Arum said he was very impressed with Pacquiao’s character that he was glad that Morales lost to a "nice kid like him."

Pacquiao, who has been contracted to fight under Top Rank four times excluding this weekend’s blockbuster show at the Thomas and Mack Center, also returned the sentiment and even approached Arum for giving him the opportunity to face Erik Morales in a rematch.

Pacquiao first fought under Top Rank in Nov. 2001 against Agapito Sanchez of the Dominican Republic at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The fight ended in a six-round technical draw.

In May 2004, Pacquiao squared off with Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico at the MGM Grand. The bout ended on a 12-round split draw.

In his third fight under the auspices of Arum, Pacquiao clashed with Morales in March 2005 and was beaten on points.

The only time Pacquiao won under a Top Rank card took place in September last year when he stopped Mexican Hector Velazquez in Los Angeles.

—Nick GIONGCO Printer Friendly Version

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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