Pacquiao’s Defeat Spawns Conspiracy Theories

As Floyd Mayweather raised his right arm in victory moments before the end of the 12th round in what had been billed “The Fight of the Century,” the mood at Mao’s nightclub in Phnom Penh began to shift.

The crowd of about 80 Filipinos watching the fight there had been nervous and excited, but certain that they were about to see their countryman Manny Pacquiao crowned the No. 1 boxer of the modern era.

Men watch the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (William Kelly)
Men watch the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (William Kelly)

But Mayweather’s raised arm signaled a different outcome, and the room became tense. There were gasps of horror as the judges’ unanimous decision was announced: Mayweather had won.

They were in no doubt—one judge scored 118-110 in Mayweather’s favor while the other two awarded the fight to the American 116-112.

But the score was being kept differently in Phnom Penh.

“Our perception is that Manny Pacquiao won the fight,” said a Manila native who has lived in Phnom Penh for the past two years and gave his name only as Ely.

“It is not because we are Filipinos, but because of what we are just seeing. He throws more punches. He is more aggressive about the fight,” he said. “Mayweather is always just running around.

“I’m too disappointed,” he added.

It had all started very differently. The Phnom Penh crowd had joined those in Las Vegas and millions across the world, erupting in cheers as Pacquiao made his way to the ring.

The pride was palpable at Mao’s as the room stood to attention, hands on hearts for the national anthem. Then it was off. The fight got off to a slow start, but by round four, when Pacquiao erupted and unleashed a fury of blows, cheers rang out and the mood became increasingly buoyant

Pacquiao would later say, to the delight of his fans, that the American “didn’t do nothing.” Statistics told a different story, however: Mayweather landed 148 punches to Pacquiao’s 81.

Outside the nightclub, Cambodian spectators around Phnom Penh were just as frustrated as Pacquiao’s Filipino fans.

Tim Leng, 41, who watched the match at a coffee shop at the corner of streets 242 and 63, said the result was not fair.

“I think the result is biased in favor of Floyd because I and others saw that Manny Pacquiao was chasing from the first round until the end.”

The judges, he felt, favored Mayweather because the fight was held in the U.S.

But there was at least one Mayweather supporter in Phnom Penh—42-year-old Ek Rith, who said he had been following the American boxer for five years and was a happy man Sunday.

“I am very happy Floyd won…. Manny Pacquiao punched a lot, but most of them missed.”

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