Pacquiao celebrates after his victory over Mosley. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao gave expatriates in the UAE another reason to wake up early on Sunday as they watched him face American fighter Shane Mosley in an explosive match that lasted 12 rounds.

Across homes, restaurants and bars in the emirates, boxing fans, mostly Filipinos, watched the pound-for-pound king dominate the fight with powerful combination punches to retain his WBO welterweight title with a unanimous vote from the judges.

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However, celebrations were subdued after an anticipated knockout did not happen, compounded by Mosley’s lacklustre performance. He was booed for much of the bout.

“I felt disappointed that Mosley wasn’t up to par, but I’m still happy that Pacquiao won,” said Jhem Yabut, a sales advisor. He said he woke up at 5am to watch the fight at Kitakits@Marco Polo Hotel (formerly Chikka Grill).

“I also had to ask a colleague to swap shifts with me so I can watch the fight,” he said with a grin.

The shift swap was worth it, he said, especially after a knockdown in the third round. Pacquiao sent Mosley down on the canvas with a straight left punch, but was unable to score a knockdown for the rest of the fight as Mosley switched to defense mode in order to survive.

“I got him with a lucky shot,” Pacquiao later said in ringside in front of a sellout crowd of more than 16,000 at the MGM Garden Arena. “Mosley is not slow. He is fast. He was waiting for me to make a mistake and he wanted to counter. I was careful with that.”

Catching the action

In Dubai, Carina Gotianco, a secretary, swapped a day off with a colleague to catch the action on the big screen at the restaurant where fan Yabut and more than 100 Pacquiao supporters gathered as early as 5:30am.

“I was surprised Mosley didn’t give a good fight on the ring. I was waiting for him to show some powerful punches. I’m looking forward to a match with [Floyd] Mayweather Jr,” she said.

Reeves Sagario, customer service manager, shared the same sentiment. “I hope the fight with Mayweather happens, and then Pacquiao can retire if he wants. He’s already an accomplished fighter. Today, he made it look like an effortless 12 rounds. His speed and powerful punches are still there.”

Mark Ong, a customer service representative in Dubai, agreed that it wasn’t the Filipino’s best fight, but said “I expected him to win this fight 110 per cent.” “I am still waiting for him to fight Mayweather. He can still do it because he is still strong and hasn’t shown any flaws,” he added. He was up since 1am in anticipation of the fight.

Pacquiao and Mayweather

Negotiations for an anticipated fight with Pacquiao and Mayweather fell after both fighters could not agree on a drug testing scheme.

“A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is going to be the next exciting game after Mosley,” said Maurice William Ferando, a PR manager, who admitted becoming a Pacquiao fan after last year’s fight with Antonio Margarito.

“After that fight, I started reading about [Pacquiao’s] life, his donations to the poor, his foundations, and it just amazed me that a sportsman can also have these good qualities.”

Serando said he thinks Pacquiao can now retire “because he now has politics as well as boxing to take care of.” Pacquiao is also an elected congressman in the Philippines, representing the Sarangani province where he comes from. 

Visiting Manny Pacquiao's hometown and talking to the people he grew up with, Gulf News discovers the humble beginnings of one of the world's greatest athletes.