By OLIVER TEVES
MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino fans were stunned by Manny Pacquiao’s knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez, dampening the spirit of a nation battered by a powerful typhoon that killed more than 600 people in the southern region where the boxing champion lives.
In New Bataan township, which was ravaged by Typhoon Bopha last week, refugees, rescuers and aid workers took a break from a grueling search for bodies and survivors to watch the fight on a big TV screen -- only to be disappointed by their hero’s sixth-round knockout.
The fight took place Saturday night in Las Vegas, or Sunday in the Philippines. Town spokesman Marlon Esperanza said hundreds of villagers, most of whom lost their homes to mud- and rock-laden flash floods, packed the local gymnasium used as a temporary shelter. Many had hoped Pacquiao would triumph and share his earnings with the typhoon victims.
Elementary math teacher Constancio Olivar said people were cheering for Pacquiao in the sixth round, then fell silent when Marquez landed a shot flush to the jaw of Pacquiao, who fell heavily to the canvas and remained motionless for some time.
In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Pacquiao’s defeat "cannot set aside the many honors Manny has given to the Filipino people.
Boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz said the defeat could demoralize Filipinos, particularly those in the typhoon-hit areas on the main southern island of Mindanao where Pacquiao is from.
Nathanielsz said Pacquiao, who trained for two months, may not have spent enough time for physical conditioning unlike Marquez, who spent twice as many months preparing for the fight.