LAS VEGAS – Judging from the cheers in Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) weigh-in, it looks like Manny Pacquaio will be enjoying the ‘hometown edge’ when he fights American Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand.
Flag-waving Filipino fans who came in droves to witness the two ring stars tip the scales readily made their presence felt, chanting Pacquiao’s name and screaming their lungs out every time the champion would wave and blow kisses at them.
The noise reached its crescendo the moment Pacman, stripping down to his undies after arriving for the ceremonies in a gray MP jacket over a blue tracksuit, tipped the scales at its exact limit of 147 lbs – the heaviest he has ever weighed for a fight.
Bradley, the confident 28-year-old challenger from Palm Springs, California, confidently climbed the stage wearing an all-black tracksuit, baseball cup, and sunglasses, but jeers from the crowd of 4,000 greeted his every move.
The cocky American played along with the crowd, cupping one hand behind his ears and asking the boo boys to turn up the noise.
The crowd obliged.
After weighing in a pound under the limit at 146, the American proudly flexed his perfectly-ripped body and abs, as if to taunt the crowd some more.
“Getting booed doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been here before,” he said.
During the traditional stare down, Pacquiao couldn’t keep himself from smiling, while Bradley obviously had his game face on.
Asked later by popular boxing commentator Max Kellerman why he was smiling, the Filipino, 33, replied, “I’m just happy that God is with me.”
Jerome Laurente, a Filipino nurse based in the US, had to travel all the way from Hawaii just to see his boxing idol. He said he’s been making the pilgrimage for four years now beginning with Pacquiao’s fight against Oscar De La Hoya.
“I know Manny will win this one, too,” said the native of Cebu.
Joey Uy has been living in the US for 20 years now and is watching Pacquiao in action for the very first time. Although the mood was subdued compared to past Pacman fights, he and his family were delighted with the fiesta-like atmosphere inside the arena.
Celebrities also attended the weigh-in, among them former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, reigning super-bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire Jr. and his wife Rachel, former Coca-Cola and Letran coach Binky Favis, popular horse owner Hermie Esguerra and former Manila mayor Lito Atienza, a close family friend and longtime supporter of the Pacquiaos.