Pacquiao`s record title haul lifts Filipino spirits

Manila :From air-conditioned shopping malls and hotels to packed parks and covered public halls across the country, Filipinos erupted in celebration as boxer Manny Pacquiao won his record eighth world title on Saturday.

Pacquiao, a congressman and widely regarded as the planet`s best pound-for-pound fighter, won a unanimous points victory over Mexican Antonio Margarito in Texas, adding the WBC super welterweight crown to seven previous world titles.

"Manny made all of us proud by punishing Margarito with body punches and jabs to his face," Pedro de Jesus, a 62-year-old taxi driver told Reuters as he left a park in Manila`s slums after the bout, which took place on Sunday afternoon in the Philippines.

"He was not only a great boxer but he was also a very humane fighter. He was asking the referee to stop the fight because he doesn`t want to hurt Margarito further."

In Marikina City in the capital, some Filipino fans were perched on trees, lamp posts and concrete walls to get a better view of huge TV screens set up in a crowded public park.

"Go, Manny, go!" could be heard every time Pacquiao`s left hand connected with Margarito`s face, the crowd egging him to finish off the Mexican in the 11th round when his opponent, bloodied and face swollen, was no longer fighting back.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino`s aide told reporters he watched the bout at a hotel room after attending a leaders` meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama, Japan.

Soldiers also took a break to watch Pacquiao`s fight inside military bases across the archipelago, imposing an unofficial truce with Maoist guerrillas and Islamic militants.

Army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said troops resumed patrols and security-related operations after the bout.

Police authorities have said the crime rate drops every time Pacquiao climbs the ring.

The same was true on Sunday, with millions of Filipinos glued to televisions and radios at homes, restaurants and cinemas to witness the 31-year-old southpaw make boxing history.

Bureau Report