Cebuanos from all walks of life were just as stunned as the rest of the country in witnessing the sixth round knockout of People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao at the hands of Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez yesterday.
In Tinago barangay hall, silence reigned over the venue as fans saw the Saranggani representative face down on the canvas.
They left their seats almost immediately without waiting for the official announcement of the winner.
Armando Largo, a staffer of the Mariner’s Court restaurant which offered pay-per-view, said Pacquiao lost because he switched to another religion and no longer made the sign of the cross before a fight.
“He transferred to another religion and he lost,” Largo said in Cebuano.
Msgr. Roberto Alesna, a parish priest of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, refused to comment on insinuations that Pacquiao’s change of faith had caused his defeat.
But Alesna confirmed that the number of people attending the 11 a.m. Mass yesterday was down compared to usual Sundays.
Cebuano boxing fans headed to their respective barangay sports centers and barangay halls in Basak-San Nicolas, Guadalupe, and Mambaling as early as 8 a.m. for a free live streaming telecast of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight.
Viewers at the Basak-San Nicolas gym offered a one-minute of silence to pray for a victory of Pacquaio led by barangay captain George Rama.
They gasped when Marquez dropped Pacman in the middle of the third round.
The cheers rang loud when Pacquiao knocked Marquez in the fifth round.
But silence washed over the crowd after they saw Marquez floor Pacquiao with a solid right on the jaw.
“I can’t breathe. I can’t believe this happened to Pacquiao. I thought he would win,” said Ronnie Galves as he massaged his chest before leaving the gym.
“I’m shocked. I can’t believe Marquez has a strong punch. But Pacman will remain as my idol, my sons and I will wait for his next fight,” added Jerome Mago, who brought his two sons with him in the gym.
In Lapu-Lapu City, hundreds of residents shouted their dismay over Pacquiao’s knockout loss at the Hoops Dome.
“This is the result of Pacquiao’s decision to forsake the rosary,” said Edwin Pino, a member of Task Force Motorsiklo in Lapu-Lapu City.
An American in his 60s who refused to be interviewed cried on seeing Pacquiao lying face flat on the canvas.
Call center agent Norman Villamor said he hoped for a Pacquiao win and blamed his knockout loss for his many pursuits in politics and business.
“(Pacquiao) can’t have it all, we can’t have it all,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said Pacquaio is a ‘true champion’ despite his defeat.
“Pacquaio handled the stunning defeat with grace and humility. A true champion,” she said.
The governor’s younger brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district said Pacquiao’s loss was a heartbreaker.
“But we must admire him for his courage. Win or lose, he shows the best of the Filipino,” he said.
Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu’s 1st district said Pacquaio should have a fifth fight with Marquez.
“If I know Manny, he would want a five. He should make the sign of the cross,” he added.
Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Cebu City police chief, said Pacquiao was a true sportsman and a graceful loser by congratulating Marquez after the fight.
Senior Supt. Patrocinio Commendador, Cebu provincial police chief, also said Pacquiao became overconfident.
“Nothing is predictable in sports,as well in life. The most important thing is to prepare for its aftermath. Pacman has been at the top for so long and he ought to be prepared for the slide,” Comendador said. /Jhunnex Napallacan and Carine M. Asutilla, Correspondents with Correspondents Norman V. Mendoza, Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Carmel Loise Matus and Joy Cherry Quito