The Philippines erupted in cheers Sunday as seven-time Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao beat Ghana's Joshua Clottey by unanimous decision after a 12-round fight.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo led Filipinos in congratulating Pacquiao's latest victory.

“We take heart in Manny's proven formula of unselfish patriotism and unyielding perseverance,” she said. “With unity and hard work, Manny has won again for the nation.”

Filipinos packed movie houses, restaurants, bars and public gymnasiums for the live telecast of the bout held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“It appeared that Pacquiao had a hard time pinning Clottey down,” said a 40-year-old man who paid 30 dollars to watch the fight at a restaurant. “We were hoping for a knockout but it didn't come.”

Pacquiao dominated the 12-round duel, retaining his World Boxing Organization welterweight title. Clottey survived the fight by counter-punching and covering up. “Clottey is not an easy opponent,” the Filipino fighter said after his win. “He is very strong. He took a lot of punches and was never hurt.”

The victory could set the stage for re-opening talks for a fight between Pacquiao and unbeaten US boxer Floyd Mayweather, which earlier collapsed over a drug-testing dispute.

“I want that fight because the people want that fight,” Pacquiao said. But before any fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao returns to the Philippines to run for a congressional seat in elections in May. He ran for Congress in 2007, but lost.

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