TAGUM CITY (MindaNews/03 May) – The 2015 Palarong Pambansa opened early Sunday morning but games were suspended starting 10 a.m. to allow athletes to watch the “Fight of the Century” between Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, via a live feed on the giant screen.
But the satellite feed encountered glitches in the middle rounds and in rounds eight to 11 of the 12-round fight, prompting viewers to text or call their relatives for updates.
The crowd of mostly athletes started to fill the gymnasium at around 9 a.m. while some of the opening games were about to wrap up. About an hour later, the gymnasium was almost jampacked.
Shortly before the fight, Sannen Tajaran, wrestling trainer from Western Visayas Regional Athletic Association (WVRAA) told MindaNews that if Pacquiao could not knockout Mayweather and the fight goes to distance, the latter would remain undefeated.
Tajaran’s fearless forecast was right.
“Mayweather refused to engage Manny in a slugfest. It seems he’s scared,” the trainer from Aklan added.
“Because it’s Las Vegas”
A ranking Department of Education official from the same region told Mindanews that she knew Mayweather would win the fight.
“Because it’s Las Vegas, it’s the gambling capital of the world. Mayweather has a clout in that place, I’ve been there,” added the official, who is married to an American.
Like the DepEd official, a coach from Bicol region also believed that “it’s because of Las Vegas why Pacquiao lost.”
“Kung hindi doon ang venue, kunyari sa Macau, di mananalo si Mayweather doon” (If the venue had been Macau, for instance, Mayweather would not iwn there), he told MindaNews.
But for Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, Pacquiao gave a good fight.
He said he is glad that nothing bad happened to both boxers, especially for the Filipino boxing icon. “Both of them are still in in good shape after the fight, I think that’s the most important thing.”
The governor along with other local government officials watched the fight with the delegates inside the gymnasium.
Deafening cheers and jeers
After undercard fights, the crowd cheered as clips of previous fights of Pacquiao were shown while they jeered everytime Mayweather’s face was shown onscreen. But the crowd cheered louder as video clips of Pacquiao’s mother, Dionisia, were shown.
During the fight, the crowd cheered everytime Pacquiao landed a clear shot against Mayweather.
But when Mayweather held Pacquiao’s head underneath his elbows, the crowd jeered.
“Keep it clean, keep it clean,” the referee repeatedly reminded Mayweather.
Towards the end of Round 7, the screen shut off. The crowd went silent. The screening resumed in the last 10 seconds of Round 11 but shut off again after the fight ended and resumed right on the announcement of the winner.
Some people in the crowd were stunned that Mayweather won by a unanimous decision of three judges while some grumbled as they slowly exited the gymnasium.
The host province provided free live screenings of the fight in different venues.
Aside from the gymnasium, live screens were also installed near the Pasalubong Center, just right behind the gymnasium. Another giant screen was set up at the poolside, next to the gym.
The main gate of the sports complex also had a giant screen while a smaller screen was set up beside the grandstand.
The Palaro delegates said TV sets with live feeds were also provided in most of the billeting stations.
Residents in the area were also allowed to watch the live screenings.
“Wala pa kami namaligya kay gabii lang kami abot, tanaw sa kami boxing” (We’re not selling yet because we arrived last night and ew want to watch the boxing first,” a vendor of souvenirs from Pagadian City said.
The theme for this year’s Palaro is “Sports breaking borders, building peace.”
(Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)