By Ronn Bautista
MANILA (Reuters) - Thousands of ecstatic Filipino fans erupted in celebration after boxing hero Manny Pacquiao defeated Adrien Broner in a unanimous decision in Las Vegas on Saturday, with many hoping the victory could get the southpaw boxer a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
The 40-year-old Filipino senator put on a dominant performance against the 29-year old American boxer to retain his WBA welterweight world title.
Two judges handed down scores of 116-112 in favor of Pacquiao, while the third had the score at 117-111.
"He is a world champion. You really can't beat him," said company messenger Boy Maniari, who was one among the thousands who watched the match from a giant screen in a basketball court in Marikina city.
"This will lead to Pacquiao's rematch with Mayweather. Mayweather will lose," Maniari said.
Retired Mayweather attended the fight, fuelling speculation of a rematch against Pacquiao whom he defeated in their 2015 bout that was dubbed "The Fight of the Century" but never lived up to its billing.
The Filipino eight-division world champion is enjoying a career turnaround after uninspiring efforts that left many believing his career was nearing an end.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin described Pacquiao as "the eternal hero" after the match that took the Filipino boxer's career record to 61-7-2.
"I will slap anyone who suggests again he retire. Fighters never retire; fighting is their oxygen; they accept even permanent damage & blistering defeat as badges of honor," Locsin said on Twitter.
Pacquiao, dubbed as the Philippine nation's fist, appeared the younger and more spry of the two as he relegated Broner to the role of defensive fighter.
Pacquiao "displayed his vintage form just like in his heyday", Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"We thank our pound-for-pound King for not only bringing honor and glory to our flag but for once again uniting all Filipinos worldwide with his display of athleticism, power and Filipino pride", Panelo said.
(Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)