MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 4) Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao made history Sunday (Manila time) when he bagged the welterweight title, his seventh in as many divisions, via technical knockout of Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, the reigning champion in that division.
Kenny Bayless, the referee of the match, stopped the fight at 2:04-minute mark of the 12th round declaring Pacquiao the winner in the fight held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao bucked a size disadvantage against Cotto on his way to becoming the first fighter to win world titles in seven divisions.
Pacquiao has won the world championships in the flyweight (112 pounds), super bantamweight (122 lb), featherweight (126 lb), super featherweight (130 lb), lightweight (135 lb), and light welterweight (140 lb).
No man has won seven world titles in seven weight divisions and only five boxers have won six ? Pacquiao, Oscar de la Hoya, Thomas Hearns, Hector Camacho, and James Toney.
Pacquiao looked unstoppable for the third consecutive fight, knocking Cotto down twice in the early rounds before putting the finishing touches on in the 12th round to claim Cotto's World Boxing Organization title.
The Filipino dominated from the second round on, putting on a stunning display of boxing skills and laying a savage beating on the champion.
"I tried my best to knock him out," Pacquiao said. "I thought in 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 Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008 before destroying Ricky Hatton in just two rounds in May.
This was only his second fight as a welterweight as he 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.
Pacquiao opened slowly in the opening round before switching to his up tempo style in the second and then knocking Cotto down for the first time in the third.
In the next round Pacquiao scored another knockdown, this time sending Cotto sprawling across the center of the ring by landing a left hook.
"I fought everybody and Manny is one of the best all time," said Cotto, who suffered just the second loss of his brilliant career.
"He jabs and throws. I didn't know from where the punches were coming and I didn't protect myself from the punches."
The Puerto Rican, thoroughly beaten by a ferocious Manny Pacquiao in a 12th-round TKO loss, was taken to the hospital after the fight for precautionary checkups, including a magnetic resonance imaging test, on orders from NSAC doctors.
?Miguel Cotto wants to let everybody know that he?s okay,? said Ricardo Jimenez, a Top Rank-appointed spokesperson for the fighter during the post-fight conference.
?He has bruises and cuts but he said, ?I just came from a fight and that?s the way I?m supposed to look,?? added Jimenez.
After the ninth round, Cotto?s wife and children left the arena, apparently to spare the children from having to watch their father getting beaten up.
Boxers sent to the hospital have become normal fare in Pacquiao fights recently.
In December 2008, Pacquiao brutally annihilated Oscar De La Hoya for eight rounds, after which, the Golden Boy was sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
Ricky Hatton, the British ?Hitman? knocked out cold by the Filipino ring icon in the second round, also needed a medical checkup after the match.
?I fought with a lot of heart but I went up against the best fighter I had ever faced,? Cotto said through Jimenez.
Cotto?s beat-up face was a result of 276 power punches connected by Pacquiao, two of which floored Cotto in the third and fourth rounds.
With reports from Cedelf Tupas, Inquirer; Francis Ochoa in Las Vegas; AFP