KUALA LUMPUR - (4th UPDATE) Led by President Rodrigo Duterte, political heavyweights on Sunday showed support for Senator Manny Pacquiao in his successful bid for the World Boxing Association welterweight belt here against Lucas Matthysse of Argentina.
Cheers greeted Duterte as he entered Kuala Lumpur's Axiata Arena. With him were his son Sebastian Duterte and Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go.
The President stood and raised his fists after Pacquiao, 39, defeated Matthysse via knockout in the seventh round. It was the Filipino legend's 60th career win in a glittering 23-year career.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also watched the bout. He arrived at the venue during the sixth round, Malacañang staff confirmed.
Mahathir said Pacquiao’s win ushered a "historic day for Malaysia."
Duterte, meanwhile, said he will take inspiration from Pacquiao's triumph when he holds a dialogue with Mahathir.
"I have no regrets that I came earlier to watch the fight. It's a good one, it's the first time that I have traveled outside the Philippines just to see him fight," the President told reporters.
The President, however, said he has urged Pacquiao to retire because he wants "to see my friend rest on his laurels and enjoy life."
"He (Pacquiao) has so much money already, no problem," quipped Duterte.
DUTERTE GETS PACQUIAO'S PRAISES
Pacquiao, for his part, thanked Duterte and Mahathir for their support.
"Mga Pilipino, maraming-maraming salamat, lalo na sa ating mahal na Pangulo," Pacquiao said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
(To the Filipinos, thank you very much, especially to our President.)
"We have a good President... and thank you, Mr. President for being our president. And also the Prime Minister, Mahathir, thank you so much to all your support," he added.
Some of Pacquiao's colleagues from Congress also showed up at the match, including Senators Ralph Recto and JV Ejercito, Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, and PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles.
Also at the world-title clash were Solicitor General Jose Calida, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano.
Throngs of fans, meanwhile, put on a show of support for the Filipino boxing legend chanting his name and patronizing merchandise.
With reports from Dyan Castillejo, Pia Gutierrez and Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse