Pacquiao draws biggest crowd; ushers in US boxing revival

<font color=”#22518D”><strong>ARLINGTON, Texas ( MindaNews/DateLine Philippines)–Manny Pacquiao’s surging apprehension about crowd turnout at the Cowboys stadium here when he tangles with Joshua Clottey for the WBO Welterweight title ebbed a day before fight night on Saturday. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, assured of a 45,000 seating sell-out,  announced the sale of “party passes” for a $35 standing-room.</strong></font>

Official records show 50,994 people either drove or flew in from all over Texas and the US. It was the third biggest crowd since Julio Chavez fought Pernel Whitaker at the Alamodome on September 1993 that drew 52,730 boxing fans. The Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks fight in 1978 brought in an all-time high crowd of 63,350.

It indeed turned out to be “The Event” as the title fight itself was overshadowed by the spectacle, pageantry and pomp provided by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones matched only by the fans chanting “Manny, Manny.” Filipino rock star Arnel Pineda, lead singer of the American rock band Journey, sang the Philippine national anthem while a Cowboys trio led the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

“I am very, very happy because the fans really came” exclaimed a visibly pleased Pacquaio who showed up at a post-fight press conference wearing black shades to hide off swelling on corners of his eyes caused by Clottey’s effective yet sparing offense during the 12-round boxing match.

Ordinary fans, so used to Pacquiao demolishing his opponents, were a bit disappointed at the one-sided fight with others admitting to MindaNews it was “boring.”

Boxing stastistics, however, showed the Pacman threw 1,200 punches to Clottey, the most he unleashed to an opponent in all of his fights that included Barrera, Marquez and De la Hoya, to name a few.

So effective was Pacquiao’s offense that it virtually prevented Clottey to staged his own, fully aware if he lowers down his hands he surely would end up hitting the canvass. And so he survived the 12 rounds parlaying Pacquiao’s jabs and punches, which were earnestly seeking for an opening that can lead to a knockout. “He was very very fast,” Clottey admitted later, that he could not launch his own offense.

But the crowd did not mind, largely because they saw how Pacquiao tried yet failed to break through Clottey’s superb defense in his bid to bring the Ghanaian boxer along those he defeated, either badly beaten or knocked out.

Elsewhere at a Filipino home in Mission City, Rhodora Elizondo began to doze off shortly after the fifth round as some of her companions who gathered at the house of Harris Tan also turned their growing frustration at the sumptuous food prepared for the fight, just as thousands of others who opted to watch HBO’s pay-per-view, were doing.

In Los Angeles, Julius Valmores reported a group of  Maranaws availed of the Pacquiao mania to call for a meeting among members of their organization known as Maranaws in America for Peace, Integration and Advancement (MAPIA). at the residence of its president, architect Mark Ombra.

There, punctuated by their own chants of “ai do ( oh my) and mia igo (hit him), they feasted on inaluban na tilapia (grilled tilapia cooked in coconut milk), diyalok a manok (cooked-like chicken curry), beef randang and palapa  (spicy appetizer).

Pacquiao was already dressed up when he showed up, more than an hour later, for a press conference after the fight.

He is yet to go to another event across the stadium, where he no longer uses his boxing gloves. He will sing non-stop for 90 minutes together with his band for an after-fight party. Asked what would be his first song, the Pacman blurted “La Bamba.”

While most paid $45 dollars to watch Pacquiao defeat Clottey at the stadium, a few hundreds shelled out a hefty $100 to watch the world’s pound-for-pound king sing.

After all, as a Filipina from Chicago listed on a poster her expense in seeing Pacquiao here in the lone state of Texas, she says  “these are things that money could not buy.” (Merpu Roa/MindaNews)

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