, LAS VEGAS, Nov 15 – Filipino Manny Pacquiao made history by becoming the first fighter to win seven world titles in as many weight classes with a stunning 12th round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto.
Pacquiao looked unstoppable for the third consecutive fight, knocking Cotto down twice in the early rounds Saturday before putting the finishing touches on in the 12th round to claim Cotto’s World Boxing Organization welterweight title.
The Filipino dominated from the second round on, putting a stunning display of boxing skills and laying a savage beating on the Puerto Rican champion at the MGM Grand hotel and casino.
Referee Kenny Bayless finally stopped the slaughter 55 seconds into the final round with Cotto unable to defend himself from Pacquiao’s lightning quick combinations.
"I tried my best to knock him out," Pacquiao said. "I thought in 11th round they would stop the fight. I am surprise he continued to fight."
Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) solidified his status as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He also looked unstoppable in his two previous victories dominating the legendary Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008 before destroying Britain Ricky Hatton in just two rounds in May.
This was only his second fight as a welterweight as Pacquiao is now being lined up for a blockbuster fight against American Floyd Mayweather.
"Everybody was saying he was bigger and stronger than me so I wanted to try and test his power," Pacquiao said of Cotto.
Pacquiao opened slowly in the first round before switching to his up tempo style in the second and then knocking Cotto down for the first time in the third in front of a sold out crowd of about 16,000 at the Grand Garden Arena.
In the next round Pacquiao scored another knockdown this time sending Cotto sprawling across the centre of the ring by landing a left hook.
Both fighters are icons in their homeland and it showed at Friday’s weigh in where the 6,500 packed into the Grand Garden Arena making it one of the largest crowds to ever watch a weigh in for a Las Vegas fight.
Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs) praised Pacquiao by calling him the best fighter he has ever fought.
"I fought everybody and Manny is one of the best all time," said Cotto, who suffered just the second loss of his superb career. "He jabs and throws. I didn’t know from where the punches were coming and I didn’t protect myself from the punches."
Pacquiao knocked Cotto down by hurting him for the first time in the third round with a short right hook set up by a left jab. Cotto did not go down all the way down but did touch both gloves to the canvas before regaining his balance.
Cotto went down for the second round in a row as Pacquiao came off the ropes and hurt him with a short left hook that sent Cotto sprawling sideways across the ring.
It didn’t take Pacquiao long to systematically break down Cotto’s defence even going to the ropes at different times in the fight to recharge his batteries, confident he could weather any storm Cotto could bring.
"Our plan was to not hurry and take our time early," Pacquiao said. "We knew his strategy was to counter punch. We were careful in early rounds.
"I was trying to test his power early. I wanted to get hit in the body and head and then when I started control the fight I got aggressive and put pressure on him."
By the sixth round Cotto’s face was showing signs of wear as both eyes became puffy. By the 11th round the champion was bleeding from both the mouth and nose as his white trucks starting turning a shade of red.
Pacquiao praised Cotto’s courage after the fight saying his opponent surprised him with how much punishment he could take and still come at him.
"Cotto is a tough opponent and he got hit lot of solid punches he didn’t go down," said Pacquiao, who had to have his ear drained of blood after the fight.
Cotto’s trainer Joe Santiago asked his fighter if he wanted to stop the fight after the eighth round and Cotto said no. His father, who works in his corner for every fight, tried to stop the fight after the 11th round but was voted down by the other members of the corner team.
By this time Cotto’s family had had enough as his wife and young son sitting at ringside left the Grand Garden Arena after the 11th round.
Cotto did not attend the post-fight news conference because he had to go to a Las Vegas hospital for treatment of his cuts and bruises and x-rays to see if there were any broken bones.