By Rosemarie Francisco
MANILA (Reuters) - Sales of Manny Pacquiao boxing gear and effects have soared as much as 10 times ahead of his May 2 megafight with Floyd Mayweather, with Philippine retailers struggling to cope with demand from fans snapping up any paraphernalia they could find.
Online and front-end retailers are seeing record sales of Pacquiao T-shirts, boxing gloves, figurines, caps and jackets, with buyers stocking up on items they believe could at least double in value if he wins what is seen as the highest grossing bout in history.
"Many are buying because prices might rise further if Manny wins. So while the fight is still days away, they are already buying these items," said 50-year-old Carolyn Yap-Tan, who has been selling Pacquiao items online for four years.
Yap-Tan said her sales via Ebay have jumped 10 times since February when the megafight, which took five years to arrange, was confirmed.
Prices of Pacquiao-autographed boxing gloves, the best-selling item, have also risen at least 50 percent, said Yap-Tan, with buyers coming mostly from the United States, and a few from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Team Pacquiao store, owned by the boxer himself with branches in Manila and the southern Philippine city of General Santos, has seen its sales nearly triple, a record not seen during Pacquiao's previous fights.
"If we only had more stocks, we could report more sales," said Team Pacquiao sales representative Honey Gervacio.
Carlo Libut, an Australia-born Filipino and a Pacquiao fan, bought 4000-pesos ($91) autographed boxing gloves for his collection at the Team Pacquiao store.
"First of all, I love the sport, boxing. And my whole family loves it, my dad loves it, and I'm a big fan of Manny Pacquiao," he said.
Even street vendors are making a killing selling lower-priced Pacquiao T-shirts, with vendors in Divisoria district in downtown Manila saying customers often buy by the dozens.
The Philippines widely regard Pacquiao, also an elected congressman, actor, TV game show host, recording artist, and a player-coach in professional basketball locally, as a national idol.
Thousands of fans often pack covered gymnasiums and public parks to watch free screenings of his fights on large LED screens throughout Manila and May 2 will be no different.
Eight-division champion Pacquiao, 36, is seen as the underdog to 11-times five-division world boxing champion "Money" Mayweather, 38.
Pacquiao's followers, however, are convinced he will make history.
"I believe he will win, he will defeat Mayweather with his speed. Pacquiao is fast on the ring," Yap-Tan said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)