PACQUIAO WATCH: THE REBIRTH OF PACQUIAO
By Edwin G. Espejo
Mon, 30 Jun 2008
IN an impressive and superb display of boxing skills, speed and punching prowess, Manny Pacquiao showed why he now rightfully owns the distinction of being the world's best pound for pound boxer.
Manny turned David Diaz's face into a bloody mess before delivering a thundering short left straight to the jaw in the ninth round that had the former World Boxing Council lightweight champion crushing to the canvass face down like a fallen timber.
So devastating was the final punch that referee Vic Drakulich did not bother finish the count.
By showing he is also a versatile and still a dangerous fighter that he was, Pacquiao crowned himself the new champion and fulfilled his dreams of becoming the first Filipino to capture a boxing title in the lightweight division ? a distinction that eluded even the eminent and late Filipino boxing icon Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde.
By capturing a fourth boxing title in as many weight divisions, he broke his own record of being the first Filipino and Asian to earn that honor.
He now joined the ranks of Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya, Roberto Duran and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as among the few boxing greats to capture world titles in four different weight categories.
His victory Sunday would have been his fifth title in five different weight classes had Marco Antonio Barrera not abdicated his featherweight crown when the two first fought in 2003.
What made Manny's victory more spectacular was the display of boxing skills that has never been seen before in all his previous 51 fights.
His right jabs were very stiff. His right hooks and crosses were lightning quick and very powerful. And he mixed it with left straights and uppercuts.
His combinations perplexed his opponent no end.
His defense was superior all night long.
And he displayed the spry and bounce that surpassed his past fights.
It was a new Pacquiao that showed up in Las Vegas.
It was his way of telling the whole world and critics, who often described him as one-dimensional fighter, that here comes Manny's second coming.
Entering the ring first and carrying the load as heavy favorite, Manny made known to Diaz that the new Filipino champion was all business.
It did not take a minute for Manny to warm up. He threw stinging jabs, right hooks and doubled them up with uppercuts right at the first round. He had Diaz lunging for air with his lateral movements and quick maneuvers, throwing power combinations in the middle of the ring and effectively disappearing from Diaz's reach in a wink of the eye.
He continued his dominance in the second round with an array of powerful combinations and quickly getting out of harm's way. He inflicted a cut on the nose bridge of Diaz in the second round, too.
His superiority over Diaz continued in Rounds 3 and 4.
By the end of Round 4, a nasty cut caused by Manny's left hooks turned Diaz's face into crimson red.
The cut would open up more in the fifth round as Manny continued to toy with Diaz.
In Round 6, the referee took a quick look at the cut at the eyelid of Diaz but the doctor motioned the fight to continue. By then a welt was slowly growing in Diaz's right eye.
Diaz would tell his corner during the break in the sixth round that Manny's punches were simply to fast for him to see.
In Round 7, Diaz caught Manny with a left cross to the face but Manny just shook it off. It was the only round that Manny slackened his tempo. Still he won that round.
Round 8 was a repeat of previous rounds where Manny continued to inflict punishment on Diaz, now badly outclassed but still upright.
In the ninth round, Manny set up a beautiful jab and unleashed a thundering left straight that caught Diaz flush on the jaw.
Diaz fell with a loud thud, his face bouncing off the canvass.
It was mercifully the end of the bloody fight for Diaz and with it his brief reign as WBC lightweight king who admitted that he was a fan of Pacquiao.
With his loss, Diaz became the last of three Diazes who simultaneously held crowns in the lightweight division from three different sanctioning bodies.
It would also probably the end of his dreams of landing more money fights.
But for Manny, it will just be the beginning of his quest for more record-breaking feats.
Manny wants to solidify his stature as one of the best to ever don the boxing gloves.
Already the only fighter to capture a boxing crown in the flyweight division and proceeded to win a title in the lightweight division, a jump of six weight classes and full 29 pounds from the 106-lb limit when he started his pro career, Manny's coach Freddie Roach said the new WBC lightweight king could wreak havoc in the super lightweight division.
It is a territory no other fighter of Manny's record-setting feat, has done before.
It is a record that may soon fall on Manny's already spectacular boxing career.
And to consider that Manny, with his victory Sunday, still has a good two or three more years of competitive boxing life.
Top photo: Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, celebrates his ninth round victory over David Diaz following their WBC lightweight championship boxing match Saturday, June 28th, 2008 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison).
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.
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