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Legacy sealed
Pacquiao proves himself pound-for-pound king, wins 7th division championship with stoppage of Cotto

Ringside by Andreas Hale & Francisco Salazar
Photos by Chris Cozzone

The welterweight mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto had all the makings of a classic war reminiscent of the 80’s era. When the first bell rang, thoughts of Hagler-Hearns and Leonard-Duran crossed the minds of those in attendance at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

Those thoughts lasted all of three-and-a-half rounds – until the legend of Pacquiao imposed its will on Cotto.

Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao was simply too much of everything for Cotto, and he wreaked havoc on his opponent en route to a dominant 12th round TKO stoppage that earned him the WBO welterweight title – his record seventh championship in as many weight classes.

Pacquiao utilized superior speed and power to knock the Puerto Rican star down twice and give him a beating that rivaled the one Cotto took from Antonio Margarito just over a year ago – this one completely devoid of a loaded gloves debate – before Kenny Bayless mercifully relieved Cotto and his family (who left the arena after the 9th round) from witnessing the brutal beating at :55 into the final stanza.

The victory cements Pacquiao’s status as not only the pound for pound best fighter today, but enters him into the debate as one of the best pound for pound fighters of all time.

Since the fight was announced earlier this year there had been talk regarding how Pacquiao’s speed would match up against the power of Cotto. What the world did not know was that Pacquiao possessed both speed and power superior to that of Cotto.

It was a dogfight for the first three and a half rounds. Both fighters had the 16,200 in attendance roaring in appreciation at the ebb and flow of the fight. Both Cotto and Pacquiao were giving just as much as they were receiving. The drama was high, the stakes were higher and nobody had a clue exactly who was gaining the upper hand in this tremendous clash.

That lasted until the third round.

Cotto was putting together a very impressive third round as he began ripping his trademark body punches to the torso of Pacquiao while his jab was finding its mark on the Filipino’s face. But a right hand seemed to come out of nowhere and dropped Cotto on the canvas. Cotto wasn’t hurt but a statement had been made as Cotto fought valiantly to close out the round.

If Cotto didn’t hear the statement Pacquiao was making in the third round, he definitely felt it in the fourth.

The Pride of Puerto Rico was back to work as he pushed the Filipino sensation back to the ropes and began wailing at the body and head of Pacquiao. Pacquiao stayed in the pocket and looked for the opportunity to unload. A menacing straight right, left uppercut combination rocked Cotto as he fell to the canvas a second time and Cotto would never be the same again.

From that point on, Pacquiao had established his power and speed as he beat Cotto like a drum. Cotto’s face was a bloody mess and Cotto could do nothing to stop Pacquiao from shooting combinations down the middle and whipping Cotto with shots from all angles. Compubox stats showed Pacquiao landing an amazing 276 out of 560 power shots – nearly 50%. Cotto had been diminished after the 2nd knockdown and landed single digits in power punches from the fifth round until the end of the fight.

It seemed like Pacquiao was growing as the rounds went on while Cotto continued to shrink. The whole episode played out in a similar fashion as last July’s beating that Cotto took from Antonio Margarito. Pacquiao continued to stalk his opponent as Cotto sought refuge between rounds before catching his breath and hopping back on his bicycle to stay as far away from Pacquiao as he could. The conclusion was eminent however as Cotto’s corner was dangerously close to stopping the fight at the end of the 11th round. If Cotto’s heart wouldn’t stop the fight, Pacquiao’s fists certainly would do it for him.

The Pacman opened the final stanza assaulting the badly battered and bruised former WBO welterweight champion. Referee Kenny Bayless looked on closely before he just couldn’t let Cotto take any more clean shots and waved the fight off.

It was a merciful stoppage as Cotto had absolutely no chance to win. He looked to land one big shot but his punches had lost steam and he was far too behind on the scorecards for it to make sense to continue. Judges had it overwhelmingly in favor of Pacquiao with scores of 109-99, 108-100 and 108-99.

With the victory, Pacquiao improves to 50-3-2 while collecting his 38th knockout victory and Cotto’s WBO welterweight championship. With his hand raised in victory, a chant of “We Want Floyd” echoed off the walls of the arena. The next obvious fight would be a clash of the world’s best as a Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight could be the biggest of this era.

“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.”

With a second brutal loss, Cotto falls to 34-2 and many wonder how much longer he will continue to fight.

“I didn’t know where the punches were coming from,” Cotto said before he was whisked away to the hospital following the fight to be checked out.

Pacquiao has dominated yet another fighter and ended it in spectacular fashion. Cotto’s name is added to a hit list that features other top tier names such as De La Hoya, Hatton, Barrera, Marquez and Morales. Will Mayweather be the next name added to this remarkable list?

“I want to see him fight Mayweather,” trainer Freddie Roach said after the fight.

It’s a fight we all want to see. Now we have to wait and see if it will happen. – Andreas Hale

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Chavez wins uneventful decision

In the main supporting bout on the “Firepower” undercard, Julio Cesar Chavez won an uneventful 10 round unanimous decision over Troy Rowland.

Chavez was in control for most of the fight. Chavez threw left hooks to the body, hoping to break down Rowland. Undeterred, Rowland hung in there in the opening rounds, at times matching Chavez punch for punch.

It was evident in the middle rounds that Chavez began to assert himself against Rowland. Chavez would land two punches for every punch that Rowland landed.

There were very few exchanges between the two fighters. Chavez spent the rest of fight throwing and landing right hands to the head of Rowland, along with the occasional left hook to the body.

Although he was down on the cards late in the fight, Rowland stayed competitive and even got off a few punches on Chavez. However, Chavez was the clear winner, despite lack of aggressiveness or initiative on his part.

Fans in attendance booed the action, or lack there of. The loudest cheers during the bout were chants of “Pacquiao” and “Cotto.”

All three judges scored the bout in favor of Chavez, with scores of 99-91, 98-92, and 97-93. Fightnews.com scored the bout 98-92 in favor of Chavez.

Chavez, from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, goes to 41-0-1, 30 KOs. Rowland, from Grand Rapids, MI, falls to 25-3, 7 KOs. –Francisco Salazar

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Foreman earns first world title

Soon-to-be-Rabbi Yuri Foreman claimed the WBA super welterweight title, defeating Daniel Santos by unanimous decision in a messy bout.

Foreman – who improves to 28-0, 8 KO – utilized a pesky jab and laterally movement to keep Santos off balance throughout the duration of the fight as neither fighter seemed to be able to muster up the strength to hurt the other.

A tactician in the ring, Foreman is known more for his boxing ability than his power and showcased it against a fighter who struggled to make the 154-pound weight limit. Santos struggled with Foreman’s movement as the boxer from Brooklyn often plucked away at his Puerto Rican foe looking to rack up the points and claim victory.

Both fighters bumped heads on numerous occasions as the fight often got a little dirty. Foreman knocked down Santos in the second round with a punch that looked more like he flung Santos to the canvas. Referee Jay Nady ruled it a knockdown but it didn’t make an impression on the end result as Foreman did just enough to earn his first world title.

After twelve seemingly uneventful rounds, Foreman claimed victory with scores of 116-110 and 117-109 (twice). – Andreas Hale

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Gomez upsets Soto-Karass

Welterweight Alfonso Gomez won a six round technical decision over Jesus Soto-Karass in a scheduled 12-round bout.

Both fighters stared down at one another during the weigh-in, where both fighters were separated from each other by their respective camps.

Soto-Karass went into the bout against Gomez with a 15 bout unbeaten streak that dated back to February of 2005. Gomez had stopped his last two opponents since a fifth round stoppage defeat at the hands of Miguel Cotto in April of last year.

After a feeling-out first round, Gomez began to counter with right hands to the head of Soto-Karass, landing more consistently as the bout progressed. Gomez boxed around Soto-Karass, who was content to fight from the center of the ring.

Soto-Karass was warned repeatedly by referee Vic Drakulich for low blows below the belt of Gomez. Replays showed some were below the belt and others were borderline.

Finally, after repeated offenses, Drakulich withdrew a point from Soto-Karass in the third round. Gomez also suffered a cut above his right eye from an unintentional head butt in the round.

In the fourth round, Soto-Karass was deducted a point again by Drakulich for another low blow. By this time, the blood flowing from the cut above Gomez’ eye was bleeding more profusely.

Soto-Karass came on strong in the fifth round. At times, he outworked Gomez and was able to score more consistently in this round than in previous others.

During the sixth round, referee Drakulich stopped the bout on the advice of the ringside physician due to the cut over Gomez’ eye. According to the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, when the bout is stopped because of an accidental head butt, the fight goes to the scorecards.

All three judges scored the bout 57-55, 57-55, and 58-54 for Gomez. Fightnews.com scored the bout 59-53 for Gomez.

Gomez, from Tustin, CA by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, goes to 21-4-2, 10 KOs. Soto-Karass, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, falls to 24-4-3, 16 KOs. –Francisco Salazar

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Garcia decisions Vierra

Super welterweight Rodrigo Garcia won a workmanlike four-round unanimous decision over Martin Vierra.

All three judges, along with Fightnews.com, scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Garcia.

Garcia, from Los Angeles, CA, improves to 5-0, 4 KOs. Vierra, from Phoenix, AZ, falls to 5-3-1, 2 KOs. –Francisco Salazar

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Sonsona starches Kedem

Eden Sonsona got the evening started right for Filipino fans as he blitzed Eilon Kedem and scored a second round TKO victory in their six round bantamweight battle.

Kedem – who falls to 9-2-4 – never had a chance as Sonsona opened the fight firing on all cylinders. Kedem looked overwhelmed as Sonsona darted in and out with hooks and body punches before scoring a knockdown with a left hand that slammed right into Kedem’s face. Kedem would rise but Sonsona would continue battering Kedem around until the bell rang. Without a chance to catch his breath, Kedem would see the whirlwind of punches coming out of the corner as Sonsona pounded Kedem until Joe Cortez waved off the fight at :17 in round 2.

Sonsona will go back to the Philippines with a 14-3 record after scoring his 4th knockout victory. Afterwards, Sonsona would run into the crowd at the MGM and show his appreciation to the fans that cheered him on. – Andreas Hale

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Korobov goes the distance

Middleweight Matt Korobov won a one-sided unanimous decision over James Winchester.

Korobov was just too big and strong for Winchester, although it did not deter Winchester from coming straight at his opponent. Korobov easily countered Winchester to the head as Winchester missed with wild punches.

Korobov came on in the third round, pressing the action and landing hard hooks to the body and head of Winchester. Working off the ropes, Winchester seemed to take Korobov’s punches well.

At times, Winchester landed an occasional straight right hand. However, he could not match Korobov’s harder and more effective punches. Winchester was in survival mode in the last round as Korobov was content to box until the final bell.

All three judges, along with Fightnews.com, scored the bout 60-54 for Korobov.

Korobov, from Saint Petersburg, Russia, improves to 8-0, 6 KOs. Winchester, from Greensboro, NC, falls to 10-3, 3 KOs. –Francisco Salazar

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Mepranum split decisions Marquez

Flyweight Richie Mepranum won a six round split-decision over Ernie Marquez.

The southpaw Mepranum was able to score a knockdown in the second round with a left hand to the head. The knockdown, which Marquez was able to recover from, seemed to motivate Marquez as he was able to score effectively with lead and counter right hands to the head.

Marquez stunned Mepranum with a series of right hands in the fourth round. Mepranum slowed down considerably, but was able to rebound in the last two rounds.

Both fighters had their moments in the last two rounds. Marquez pressed the action as Mepranum attempted to counter to the head. Both landed wild punches, but neither fighter looked seriously hurt.

One judge had Marquez winning 57-56, while the remaining two judges scored the bout 57-56 and 58-55 in favor of Mepranum. Fightnews.com scored the bout 57-56 in favor of Marquez.

Mepranum, from Sarangani, the Philippines, goes to 15-2-1, 3 KOs. Marquez, from Fort Morgan, CO, drops to 9-6-2, 3 KOs. –Francisco Salazar

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The other Cotto remains undefeated

www.fightwireimages.comIn the evening’s opening bout, Abner Cotto remained undefeated as he outpointed Lupe Guzman en route to an easy unanimous decision.

Cotto, who is second cousin to Miguel Cotto, put together combinations to keep Guzman (3-5) off balance during the six round lightweight affair. Judges scored the fight 60-54 (twice) and 59-55. With the victory, Cotto improves to 5-0. – Andreas Hale

Bonus photos

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2009 by Fightnews.com.