MANILA (Reuters) - Filipinos cheered on Sunday as they watched boxing hero Manny Pacquiao knock out Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse in a WBA welterweight championship bout in Kuala Lumpur.
Pacquiao (60-7) captured the world championship from Matthysse (39-5), who was defending the title for the first time, with a seventh-round knockout.
At a public park in the capital, Manila, hundreds cheered Pacquiao on and roared every time he floored Matthysse. It drizzled in the middle of fight but nobody left.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who booked a ringside seat, congratulated Pacquiao, 39, for making the country proud.
Duterte told reporters in Kuala Lumpur Pacquiao should now retire and enjoy life as he had a lot of money.
In Manila, fans celebrated the victory.
“I’m so happy ... His win is everyone’s win,” said security guard Jason Ladica.
Pacquiao’s knockout victory was a long time coming, said James Puebla, a nursing student.
“He can still continue fighting. He still has what it takes.”
The southpaw boxer, dubbed as the Philippine nation’s fist, floored Matthysse in rounds three, five and seven.
It was the first action for Pacquiao since losing on points to Australian Jeff Horn in Brisbane last year.
“You have proven time and again that you are not just a public servant, but one of the greatest boxers of all time,” Duterte said in a statement.
Last year, Duterte said he wanted Pacquiao, a senator, to be the Southeast Asian nation’s next president. The next presidential election is set for 2022.
Reporting by Peter Blaza; Additional Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Writing by Neil Jerome Morales