AS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao staked his claim atop boxing’s mythical throne as the pound-for-pound best, using his lightning hand speed to beat and batter Miguel Cotto into submission Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pacquiao knocked Cotto down once in the third round and again in the fourth, pummeled him repeatedly and easily lifted the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt from the Puerto Rican with a 12th-round stoppage. The time was 55 seconds into the final round, as referee Kenny Bayless leaped between the fighters to save Cotto a more savage beating and ignominious end.
Cotto came out strong and landed some hard punches, but Cotto couldn’t deal with the speed. Pacquiao was landing three shots for every two Cotto did early. After the knockdown in the fourth, Cotto’s offense was nonexistent as he spent most of the last two thirds of the fight fending off Pacquiao’s onslaught.
Cotto landed in single digits in power shots in every round from the fifth forward.
Pacquiao nearly had the stoppage after the 11th when Cotto trainer Joe Santiago walked onto the ring apron and waved his hand at Bayless.
It appeared he was going to stop the fight, but then Bayless and ringside physician James Game spoke and allowed it to continue. It was only extending the misery as Pacquiao poured it on in the 12th.
When the fight ended, the crowd began to chant, “We want Floyd!” It was a reference to Floyd Mayweather Jr., the other man with a claim to the top of the boxing pound-for-pound list.
Pacquiao, who has won championship belts in five divisions and beat the linear champion in two others, can no longer be knocked as a small man who was beating washed up fighters.
In Cotto, he took on an elite and powerful welterweight whose only loss came under suspicious circumstances to Antonio Margarito last year. There is suspicion that Margarito’s gloves were loaded for that fight, though it has never been proven.
But Pacquiao proved he was able to not only take a welterweight punch, but rock him repeatedly. It was a magnificent performance and will create public demand for a fight with Mayweather.
“I want to see him fight Mayweather,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said.
Santiago said Pacquiao hit harder and was stronger than expected. Cotto injured his left shoulder in the eighth.