Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao shocked Puerto Rican and WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto with a 12th-round stoppage in their bout Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao defeated Cotto after referee Kenny Bayles stopped the already lopsided contest via technical knockout in Round 12. After the win, Pacquiao bowed in prayer at his corner before being embraced by Cotto whose left eyelid was still oozing blood from a cut.
It was Pacquiao’s 11th straight win in 55 matches. It also gave him his seventh world boxing title in seven weight divisions, a feat no other boxer has achieved in the history of the sport.
In his post-fight interview, Pacquiao said Cotto was one of the most challenging fighters he had ever faced in the ring.
“He was a very tough opponent and he took a lot of tough shots,” he told TV host Mario Lopez.
Asked if he was ever hurt during the fight, Pacquiao said: “In some rounds, he hurt me but I handled the fight and I handled his punches.”
Pacquiao’s right ear was swollen after the fight, which came courtesy of his Puerto Rican challenger.
The General Santos native floored Cotto twice – in the third and fourth rounds -- during the “Firepower” bout. After coming in cold during the first round, Pacquiao delivered a lighting-fast left to the Puerto Rican in Round 3, sending Cotto to the canvass.
Shaking off the knockdown, Cotto continued to serve up jabs and uppercuts against the Pacman before kissing the canvass yet again before the end of the fourth.
After that, it was a different fight altogether knockdown as Pacquiao and Cotto seemed to change sides. Pacquiao, the People’s Champ and challenger from the Philippines, now played the role of aggressor while the welterweight champ tried ducking blows and keeping his right hand up to deflect some of Pacquiao’s more powerful shots.
By Round 7, Cotto’s face began to puff up from the continuous punishment being meted out by the Pacman. Gone was the calm demeanor he displayed before the fight, replaced instead by a look of pain.
More punishment in the succeeding rounds ensued as a cut opened up just above Cotto’s left eyelid in Round 10.
By the last two rounds, Pacquiao’s patience seemed to wear thin several times as Cotto seemed content to duck away from his opponent.
During several exchanges, the Puerto Rican seemed unable to answer some of Pacquiao’s flurry of shots to the head and body.
When referee Bayless finally called a stop to the fight 55 seconds into Round 12, everyone in MGM Grand Garden Arena knew who had won the fight.
During the post-fight interview, Pacquiao refused to say who he wanted to fight next in the ring. “It doesn’t matter who is next. Tonight, we will celebrate the victory,” he said.
At least one fan, however, seemed to have made up her mind for the People’s Champ. At the end of the fight, she held up a sign that read: “Floyd Mayweather Jr., you’re next!”