By Mark DeSisto

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao erased any doubt about who the top pound for pound boxer in the world is today with a crushing knockout at 2:24 of the ninth round over WBC lightweight champion David Diaz.   Pacquiao put on a tremendous display of speed, skill, and accurate punching before delivering a picture perfect left cross that left Diaz face first on the canvas.

Early in the bout, Pacquiao proved once again what’s true in any sport: “speed kills.” The “Pac Man” would step in and rip off three- and four-punch combinations at a time, before quickly stepping out to reset with a befuddled Diaz looking on.   The southpaw was dominant with his right hand, throwing fast and accurate jabs, uppercuts, and right hooks that couldn’t seem to miss Diaz the whole fight, while seemingly walking Diaz into hard left crosses.

Pacquiao’s renowned trainer Freddie Roach has worked hard over the years with the Filipino sensation in rounding out his game, particularly working on Pacquiao’s right hand upon criticism that his fighter was a one-handed fighter.

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen Pacquiao box,” stated Roach.        

Pacquiao amazingly started his career in the Philippines thirteen years ago at all of 106 pounds after selling cigarettes in the street to make ends meet.  He won his first major   word title in 1998, capturing the WBC belt as a 112-pound flyweight.  He made a stunning United States debut, capturing the 122-pound IBF bantamweight title with a six-round stoppage of Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001.  His boxing legacy was secured with a dominating 2003 stoppage of Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera and scintillating fights with other future Hall of Famers from Mexico, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, capturing the WBC 130-pound title from Marquez earlier this year.

But the question going into his bout with Diaz was whether or not he would carry his vaunted speed and power up to the lightweight division.

Pacquiao did.

“It was his speed, it was all his speed,” Diaz, now 34-2-1 (17), said as he explained the one-sided beating he absorbed. “He boxed more than I thought he would.”

Pacquiao, still only 29 years old, was poised and patient throughout the contest and appeared to carry 135 pounds as comfortably as he carried 126 or 130 pounds.

“I feel much more strong and more powerful at 135 pounds. I was kind of surprised the fight wasn’t stopped earlier,” said Pacquiao, now 47-3-2 (34). “I was praying [Diaz] was alright [after it was stopped]. I tried to help him up.”

Diaz will be all right. He made a career-high payday of $850,000 and Top Rank will bring him back after a deserved rest. Promoter Bob Arum said he would put Diaz in with “slower” fighters next time.

As for Pacquiao, the sky is the limit – almost.

Both Arum and Pacquiao said that 140 pounds would be the highest in weight the future hall of famer would climb to find suitable challenges.

Roach would love to see a 140-pound showdown between his fighter and the ever-popular and world-recognized junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton.

Arum brought up the name of KO artist Edwin Valero, the undefeated WBA 130-pound champ who has won all of his fights by stoppage and was recently cleared to fight in the state of Texas.

“Just keep [Pacquiao] away from [Miguel] Cotto” Arum said.

On the undercard;

Cortez ruins Soto’s title chance, gives Lorenzo a DQ victory

Super featherweight Humberto Soto was well on his way to a total destruction of Francisco Lorenzo in an all important WBC interim title bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center until things went shockingly wrong for the skilled, Mexican tough guy.  

Soto had broken Lorenzo’s nose with a left uppercut in round four and was pummeling the Dominican native around the ring, already having scored one knockdown.  Soto

(44-4-2, 28 KOs) proceeded to hammer his opponent into the ropes and referee Joe Cortez looked to be on the verge of stopping the bout and had partially stepped in, with Soto backing off. Cortez then stepped back and Soto, realizing the fight was still on, jumped back in, firing punches, with Lorenzo taking a knee to avoid further punishment.   A punch from Soto to the back of Lorenzo’s head, which was glancing at best, seemed to catch the attention of Cortez as if it was a damaging blow that affected the bout, which most certainly it wasn’t.

The seasoned Lorenzo (33-4, 14 KOs) with a crushed nose and a face full of blood, immediately grabbed the back of his head and did some fine acting, laying prone on the canvas.    After much discussion with officials, Cortez awarded the victory to Lorenzo by way of disqualification.   This was a decision that was simply unjust and it’s probably time for the aging Cortez to think about retirement. 


Monte Barrett needed only 57 seconds to knock out giant heavyweight experiment Tye Fields.  The 6’8” plodding Fields (41-2, 37 KOs) came forward throwing punches as always,  putting Barrett to the ropes, where Barrett timed a right hand to stun the Montana native.  The experienced Barrett (34-6, 20 KOs), having been in a number of world title bouts, put a few more punches together to floor Fields and end the bout.  


In the evening’s opening televised bout, WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano and challenger Mario Santiago put on a wonderful display of southpaw boxing to end up in a 117-111, 115-113, 114-114 split draw. Luevano retains his title and a rematch would make much sense after a fight in which the judges came up with the appropriate result.

The fighters traded knockdowns in the second round, with Luevano’s being more emphatic  Luevano seemed to have the best of the early going until Santiago landed a fight changing right uppercut in round five.  Santiago poured it on and a hard right to the body from Luevano stemmed the tide. 

The remainder of the bout had a tremendous ebb and flow, with Santiago (19-1-1, 14 KOs) better in the middle and Luevano (35-1-1, 15 KOs) boxing well late for a fight that was fit to be tied.