By Robert K. Stephen (CSW)
(TORONTO, ON) – I am used to quiet places to eat, whether they are family run or Michelin starred restaurants. Dedicated, tranquil, and quiet service. So I find myself in a sports bar, like an old geezer, on 22 November to watch the Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri fight for the WBO welterweight championship.
As I enter there, are just too many screens and too much action for a man who has come to see the fight, for which I had to wait through 36 rounds of undercard boxing before the main round. If I recall correctly, that started around 12:15 a.m; way past my bedtime.
Why on earth did I find myself in a sports bar?
I never go to sports bars but it all started off with a simple review of a documentary film on Pacquiao that went rather viral in the Philippines. It was then followed up by another article describing certain Lake Erie North Shore wines from Colchester Ridge Estates Winery in a fight vocabulary context of Manny Pacquiao’s fights. Given this recognition from the Philippines, I felt compelled to see the fight and report on it from a Toronto perspective.
In terms of economics, I contact my local PPV provider and am informed the fee is $69.99 for an HD view of the fight. I can go out and have wings and beer for less than that. What is PPV but for suckers?
I’d rather head to Philthy McNasty’s, more or less down the street from me at 130 Eglington Avenue East, in Toronto. I am not quite sure I can describe the decor other than individual bunks with screens, a common area with yet more screens, and little cubbyholes with screens.
Screen decor rules.
We finally arrive at a nice banquette’s with our own screen. It’s just perfect as we down a few pitchers of Creemore Lager and chow down on perfectly prepared jumbo buffalo and honey garlic chicken wings, with the token carrots and brown spotted celery pieces. We then move on to some succulent pub style calamari just prior to championship fight and beer bloat.
The staff is awfully busy but, given the huge crowd, manage to deliver just in time.
Philthy McNasty’s is more than a greasy neighbourhood pub as it’s loaded with screens and micro atmospheres. I am a bit surprised by the rather limited beer on tap, most of it Canadian mega brewery swill, but at least there is some Creemore lager despite it being a Molson brand.
Their wine list is very good for a pub, with nine whites, 10 reds, and two rosés.
The menu goes beyond regular pub fare and is definitely upscale, with 13 Great Beginnings, including Voodoo Chicken and Gnocchi Poutine (stay away from this starchy brute).
There are eight salads, 17 burgers and sandwiches, including the Rob Ford, which is a sandwich consisting of pulled pork, Swiss and cheddar cheese, two slices of bacon, a pile of sautéed mushrooms, two giant onion rings, with lettuce and tomatoes.
There are also six comfort foods including nachos and chicken pot pie. In addition, I note there are seven mains, stir-fry’s, and desserts.
You are simply not going to go thirsty or hungry at Philthy McNasty’s.
The undercard fights are interesting, but I sense a growing quiet for the Pacquiao/Algieri fight. All the other screens eventually focus on the boxing at Macau until finally it’s Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri welter weight championship fight.
Algieri is undefeated at 20 fights. Pacquiao is 56-5-2.
The fight begins with a bit of hype as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger visit both fighters prior to the bout. Goodness knows why.
In a burst of theatrics Algieri and Pacquiao enter the ring with flashing lights and dry ice smoke. On the patriotic front the Filipino and American national anthems are belted out. The Macau crowd and the Philthy McNasty’s crowd are terribly slanted towards Pacquiao.
The raucous roar at Philthy McNasty’s is reduced to a concentrated silence as the main bout commenced.
In a rare moment the pub becomes united as one as if they are all at the fight ringside. Ooohs and aahs and screams echo out from distant corners of the bar. Pacquiao commands the fight and wins each round with Algieri being subject to a whopping six technical knockdowns.
Algieri is simply no match for Manny.
Why are the patrons are so happy with Manny’s victory? I have no idea.
Manny wins the fight and at least Algieri survives without being knocked out. I sense a rare camaraderie amongst these two fighters as they touch gloves after being separated by the referee throughout the fight.
Good bar, good fights, and it is obvious Toronto loves Manny Pacquiao. Now that is the $64,000 question. Why?
What is next? This may be best described over a glass of port as we get reflective.