Fil-Ams in Las Vegas relieved by Pacquiao win

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Filipino-Americans watch the Pacquiao-Bradley fight at the house of William and Trini O’Rourke on Dessert Inn in Las Vegas) Photo by Bert Eljera/INQUIRER.net

• Were wary of non-KO fight ending, which could’ve robbed their champ again

• Fans now want Mayweather’s head

• Viewing parties bring family and friends together

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Manny Pacquiao is back as champion. Order has been restored. Filipinos in Las Vegas can rest easy.

“He showed he still have plenty left in the tank,” said Pat Pimentel at a fight viewing party. “He has slowed down, but he’s still one of the best.”

Showing just occasional flashes of his old fiery self, Paquiao easily outpointed Timothy Bradley over 12 rounds Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Area to win back the WBO welterweight title he lost to the American two years ago.

There were no anxious moments for the two dozen or so Fil-Ams who watched the fight at the home of William and Trini O’Rourke on Dessert Inn, except before the decision was announced.

Pacquiao easily dominated the fight, but like in 2012, there was fear that Bradley, who came into the fight with a spotless 30-fight winning streak, could snatch the victory.

“I’m glad Pacquiao was declared winner,” said Jose Badsalin. “It was a convincing win, but you never know with this decision victories.”

After a two-loss streak, including that controversial split-decision loss to Bradley, Filipinos here have been wary of a Paquiao fight.

Pacquiao fights are a big event here for the 30,000 or so Filipino-American residents, and fight parties are pretty common, with groups of Filipinos using the occasion to meet up with friends, relatives and folks coming from the same Philippine towns and cities.

“It’s been like family affairs,” said Trini Rourke, who works at the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. “Everyone here is either a friend or relative.”

Because watching the fight live is expensive, most Filipinos resort to buying pay-per-view to watch the bout, oftentimes sharing the expense and food potluck style.

At the O’Rouke fight party, there were pancit, lumpia, chicken and beef, kakanin, including cassava cake, and puto.

It’s an event repeated in many Filipino homes across the United States — and in the Philippines — as Pacquiao, a tried and tested boxing hero, continues to impress despite his advancing age.

The talk now, here and throughout the boxing world, is if finally fans will get the fight they’re hoping for — a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., a Las Vegas native.

“That will be the fight of all fights,” said Romy Lumanlan, who added that Mayweather could not forever avoid Pacquiao if he were to cement his boxing legacy.

Pacquiao came out sharp and eager to fight and engaged Bradley toe-to-toe in the early rounds, unleashing his patented two-fisted attack and combinations.

In the third round, Bradly pinned Pacquiao on the ropes and appeared to have hurt the Filipino, drawing gasps from the crowd watching the bout.

But Paquiao escaped with not much damage and administered the same punishment to Bradley in the seventh. As the American visibly appeared to be tiring out, Pacquiao took control of the fight.

In the 12th, however, the two boxers banged heads, and Pacquiao sustained a deep cut on his left eyebrow. Good for the Filipino champion, it was the last round, and there was no clear damage.

“He’s good for perhaps another two years,” said Gil Guillen, whose wife is Filipina, and had lived in the Philippines for 14 years. “We can still enjoy watching him fight.”

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