LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao’s speed and power were way too much for Miguel Cotto’s heart.
Pacquiao put on yet another dominating performance Saturday night, knocking down Cotto twice and turning his face into a bloody mess before finally stopping him at 55 seconds of the 12th round.
The Filipino star used his blazing speed and power from both hands to win his seventh title in seven weight classes and cement his stature as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Cotto took such a beating that his face was a river of red from the fury of Pacquiao’s punches, but he refused to quit even as his corner tried to throw in the towel after the 11th round.
Rafael: Pacquiao’s One Of The Greats
Manny Pacquiao may not tell you he’s great, but he shows it every time he steps in the ring. He sent another message Saturday against Miguel Cotto and put his name in the history books, Dan Rafael writes. Story
“I didn’t know from where the punches were coming,” Cotto said.
The fight was billed as a 145-pound classic, and in the early rounds it didn’t disappoint. The two went after each other with a vengeance and Cotto more than held his own as they traded punches in the center of the ring before a roaring sellout crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Pacquiao dropped Cotto with a right hand early in the third round, but he wasn’t badly hurt and came back to finish the round strong. But after Pacquiao put Cotto on the canvas with a big left hand late in the fourth round, the Puerto Rican was never the same again.
Cotto won two rounds on the scorecards of two ringside judges and just one round on the card of the third. The Associated Press gave Cotto just the first round.
“Our plan was not to hurry, but to take our time,” Pacquiao said. “It was a hard fight tonight and I needed time to test his power.”
Cotto’s face was marked early and he was bleeding midway through the fight as Pacquiao kept bouncing around and throwing punches in his unorthodox southpaw style. Cotto tried to keep taking the fight to Pacquiao, but by then his punches had lost their sting and his only real chance was to land a big punch from nowhere.
“He hit harder than we expected and he was a lot stronger than we expected,” Cotto’s trainer, Joe Santiago, said.
Cotto fought gamely, but in the later rounds he was just trying to survive as blood flowed down his face and Pacquiao came after him relentlessly. Santiago tried to stop the fight after the 11th round, but Cotto went back out to take even more punishment before a final flurry along the ropes prompted referee Kenny Bayless to end it.
Cotto’s wife and child, who were at ringside, left after the ninth round, unable to watch the beating any longer. They later accompanied him to a local hospital for a post-fight examination.
[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillManny Pacquiao, left, lands a blow to the head of Miguel Cotto in their WBO welterweight bout Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“My health comes first. I just want to make sure I’m fine, but I feel great. I’m swollen but that’s all,” Cotto said.
His face swollen, Cotto was bleeding from his nose and his cuts, and he simply couldn’t stop Pacquiao from bouncing inside and throwing both hands at will.
“Manny Pacquiao is one of the best boxers I ever fought,” Cotto said.
Pacquiao, coming off of spectacular wins over Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, added another one against Cotto, who had lost only once and held the WBO version of the welterweight title.
Pacquiao did it in his trademark way, throwing punches in flurries and from all angles until Cotto began to slow down. Then he pursued him nonstop until the end.
The fight likely will set up an even bigger one against Floyd Mayweather Jr., and many in crowd were already chanting, “We want Floyd! We want Floyd.”
“I want to see him fight Mayweather,” trainer Freddie Roach said.
Mayweather may have second thoughts after Pacquiao did what no fighter has done before — win a belt in a seventh weight class. More impressive, though, is how he has fought, dismantling opponents despite moving up consistently from 106 pounds to the 144 he weighed for the fight.
The welterweight ranks will be the last ones Pacquiao conquers, though.
“This is the last weight division for me,” Pacquiao said. “It’s history for me and more importantly a Filipino did it.”
He was so dominant in the later rounds that Cotto was fighting backward most of the way, simply trying to survive. Pacquiao was credited with landing almost twice as many punches — 336-172 — as Cotto.
“I knew when Cotto started backing up, the fight was over,” Roach said.
Pacquiao earned a minimum $13 million, while Cotto got $7 million.
Pacquiao was favored, largely off his last two performances in which he forced De La Hoya to quit on his stool and then knocked out Hatton with a huge left hook in the second round. Some in boxing, including Roach, thought Cotto had been slowed by his devastating loss last year to Antonio Margarito and would be further slowed by having to come in 2 pounds lower than his normal weight.
That wasn’t the case early in the fight, with Cotto winning the first round and fighting well. Once he was knocked down by a big left hand late in the fourth round, though, he slowed noticeably.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
From HBO: SIMPLY PHENOMENAL – PACQUIAO DOMINATES COTTO
n the lead-up to their fight, many wondered whether Manny Pacquiao could handle the power of a hard-punching welterweight like Miguel Cotto. Tonight Pacquiao answered with a resounding yes, taking Cotto’s best shots and breaking down the Puerto Rican with speed and precision to take his welterweight crown.
November 14, 2009 – by Dave Larzelere | Photos by Will Hart & Ed Mulholland
With utter fighting mastery, Manny Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto with a TKO in the 12th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas tonight, taking Cotto’s WBO welterweight belt in a sensational performance that left no question that Pacquiao is not only one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation, but one of the best of all time.
It’s a record seventh world title for Pacquiao in seven different weight classes, proving himself perhaps a more complete and explosive fighting machine as a welterweight than he was when he won his first world title eleven years ago as a 112-pound flyweight. For Cotto, meanwhile, though it was only the second loss of his great career, it was a nevertheless a devastating evening, as he found himself on the receiving end of a thorough beating that had him retreating so dramatically at the end of the bout that boos were heard throughout the sold-out arena.
It was a much different story early in the fight, however, when a confident Cotto went on the attack. In the first four rounds, it appeared the showdown was going to follow the script set out for it by many boxing pundits as a memorable war between Cotto’s considerable power and Pacquiao’s electrifying speed. Cotto’s well-timed jab seemed to neutralize Pacquiao’shandspeed in the first frame, and using his own underrated speed, he was able to land heavier shots onPacquiao than the Filipino sensation has absorbed in recent memory.
In fact, tonight’s major story may be just how well Pacquiao took those shots. Going into the fight, the public knew how fast Pacquiao was, and also knew that he had knockdown power in both hands. But one thing the world learned tonight about Manny Pacquiao was that he can walk through gigantic punches from a bruising welterweight on the order of Cotto, a man long known for breaking down his opponents with the ferocity of his attack.
Despite Cotto’s landing head-snapping jabs and hooks, the speed differential started to show in Pacquiao’s favor in the second round, and in the third, he drew first blood with a sneaky-fast right hand that sent Cotto stumbling and then bracing himself with a glove on the canvas – the first knockdown of the fight. The second, a much more convincing knockdown, came in the very next round, as Pacquiao, having languished on the ropes for much of the round, exploded with a roundhouse left that caught Cotto lunging and sent him sprawling to the canvas, clearly injured.
It’s arguable that Cotto never quite recovered from that knockdown. He fought a cagey fifth round and may have tipped the frame in his favor, but after that it was all Pacquiao in a frightening onslaught. By the seventh, Cotto had begun to circle the ring relentlessly to stay out Pacquiao wheelhouse, and by the ninth, swollen and bloodied, he was merely in survival mode, desperately trying to end the fight on his feet.
It was not to be, as referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to stop the carnage at 55 seconds of the final round. Now a seven-time champion, all that seems left for Pacquiao to accomplish in boxing is to solidify his claim on being the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter by facing the other current aspirant to the pound-for-pound throne, Floyd Mayweather. After tonight’s performance, and after Mayweather’s commanding victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in September, the way is cleared for a Pacquiao/Mayweather extravaganza that, if it happens, is set to become the biggest, most anticipated, and most hotly debated boxing match of the young millennium.