MACAU — The event had the feel of a home and away game - one camp being cheered on lustily, and the other getting jeered at every opportunity.
It was a few thousand miles out of Manila, but Manny Pacquiao did seem like the home bet and Brandon Rios the visiting fighter looking to steal the show during the official weigh in on Saturday in Asia's gambling mecca.
As the huge speakers blared the song Bebot by Blackeyed Peas, fans sang along during the refrain “Filipino, Filipino, Filipino!” to the delight of the Pacquiao camp.
Rios, on the other hand, was booed almost every time he was presented.
The event started at 7 a.m., and as expected, quite a huge crowd went to see it.
“Talagang kahit po maaga, nagpunta kami dito para mapanood ang weigh-in. Wala pa rin po kami mabili ticket. So kung hindi man kami palarin na makabili… atleast, naipakita na naming suporta at pagmamahal kay Manny. Go Manny,” said Alvin Bulaong, a pharmaceutical agent from Bulacan.
Some Pacquiao fans carried banners that read, “WAR, EARTHQUAKE & TYPHOON… Philippines will rise again, and so will MANNY PACQUIAO!”
What was interesting was that the group was led by Caucasians who claimed to be longtime fans of Pacquiao.
Just below them was a small of group of Mexican-Americans who, although outnumbered, went on to cheer for Rios.
“We don’t care if we’re a minority. We’re here to support Rios. I believe the fight tomorrow will be Pacquiao’s last. Brandon’s gonna retire him,” said a male teenager.
“No matter how many people are here to root for Pacquiao, we don’t care. But it will be a not-so-good day for them because Brandon is hungry and Brandon wants it (win),” a female Latina said.
But amid the circus athmosphere, Pacquiao seemed lost in his own thoughts.
Some mediamen even noticed how the Sarangani Congressman only flexed his muscles once instead of his usual showboating manner during these kinds of events.
Pacquiao’s business manager, Michael Koncz, had an answer.
“Manny is so focused today. I just think he’s anxious. He wants to get in the ring. He is very hungry, very so. I have never seen him so energetic,” said Koncz.
“His spirit is great, his mood is great, the training camp was great. He wants to prove to the world that he is still at the elite level. So it’s good news for his fans,” added the Pacman's Canadian adviser.