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Filipinos Rejoice After Pacquiao Wins


Filipinos are celebrating the victory of local boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who clinched the International Boxing Organization's junior welterweight title in Las Vegas Sunday. This is Pacquiao's sixth world title in as many boxing divisions.

Millions of Filipinos - from grandmothers to children, from soldiers to prisoners - suspended activities Sunday morning to watch local boxing hero Manny Pacquiao make history.

Fans packed town halls, sports complexes and other public places across the nation -- some lining up as early as daybreak to get seats in front of wide screen televisions broadcasting the fight live from Las Vegas, in the United States. In Manila, authorities had to turn away hundreds for fear of a stampede.

The anticipation quickly ended as Pacquiao's legendary left hook knocked out Briton Ricky Hatton less than three minutes into the fight. Some sports analysts expected it to be a close, 12-round match.

Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to win six world titles in as many weight divisions -- flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and now, junior welterweight.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo was "ecstatic" to learn of Pacquiao's win while on an official visit to Egypt. From Cairo, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde read a statement from Mrs. Arroyo.

"May this victory of Manny Pacquiao inspire all Filipinos to triumph against all odds and may his example of continuing to learn and improve be emulated by all our people, especially the young... We expected him to win but not in this spectacular fashion," Remonde said.

Dozens of Philippine government officials traveled to Las Vegas to watch the fight. International celebrities and movie stars were also seen at the MGM Grand Arena. The fight was touted as the "Battle between East and West".

Known in the Philippines as "PacMan", Manny Pacquiao came from a poor family in the southern Philippines and sold cigarettes in the streets of Manila before his boxing talents were discovered. He won his first world title in 1998. Boxing analysts say with this sixth title, Pacquiao could well become one of boxing's greats.

But Pacquiao's international recognition has yet to help him win in local politics. He failed in his bid for Congress in 2007. He said he will retire from boxing later this year and concentrate on the 2010 national elections.

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