Pacman sets new standard

LAS VEGAS - Filipino Manny Pacquiao made history by becoming the first fighter to win seven world titles in as many weight classes with a stunning final round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto.

LAS VEGAS - Filipino Manny Pacquiao made history by becoming the first fighter to win seven world titles in as many weight classes with a stunning final round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao looked unstoppable for the third consecutive fight, knocking Cotto down twice in the early rounds on Saturday before applying the finishing touches in the 12th round to claim Cotto's World Boxing Organisation welterweight title.

The Filipino dominated from the second round on, putting on 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 the 11th round they would stop the fight. I am surprised 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 last year 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 16000 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 6500 people 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."

Cotto's 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. - Sapa-AFP

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