Manny Pacquiao was looking to make history Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center, and he did so in impressive fashion.
Dominating David Diaz from the opening bell of their 12-round bout, Pacquiao won his fourth world title in his fourth weight class as he scored a technical knockout at 2:24 of the ninth round to capture the WBC lightweight championship.
Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 knockouts) becomes the first fighter from Asia to accomplish the feat, having won world titles at 112, 122, 130 and 135 pounds.
"I trained for speed and power," Pacquiao said. "I feel stronger at 135. Diaz caught a lot of punches. I’m surprised he didn’t go down earlier.
"My first concern was for Diaz. I was praying he was all right. It’s hard to fight a southpaw, but I jabbed and jabbed to set him up for the knockout."
Pacquiao administered a savage beating in lifting the belt from Diaz (34-2-1), who had a deep cut on his right eyelid and on the bridge of his nose and never was in the fight.
Diaz was taken to Valley Hospital for stitches.
"The game plan was not to stand and trade with Diaz because that’s his strength," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. "We wanted him to go in and out, outbox him and do what Manny does best. He did everything we asked him to do."
The final punchstats showed Pacquiao’s dominance. He had a 788-463 edge in total punches thrown and a 230-90 advantage in punches landed and had 490 power punches and 298 jabs thrown to Diaz’s 319 power punches and 144 jabs.
Pacquiao closed as a 4-1 betting favorite at MGM Mirage Properties after being as high as minus-575, and he was the overwhelming choice of the announced crowd of 8,362.
If there were any questions whether Pacquiao lost any speed by moving up to 135 pounds, he answered them in the first round. Moving fluidly and quickly, Pacquiao continually scored with the jab while working the body and effectively scoring with the uppercut. His excellent hand speed still was evident.
Diaz tried to mount an offensive in the second round, only to be quickly repelled by the quicker Pacquaio, who unleashed a flurry of shots to the head and body. Diaz survived, but it was evident he was outclassed.
By late in the fourth round, Diaz’s face was a bloody mask, and Pacquiao asked referee Vic Drakulich to stop the fight. But he allowed the onslaught to continue.
Diaz took a huge amount of punishment and showed courage as he somehow remained on his feet. But he reached his limit late in the ninth when Pacquiao dropped Diaz with a right-left combination after landing four bombs seconds before.
"His speed. It was all his speed," Diaz said. "He boxed me more than I expected him to. That’s what surprised me. I could see perfectly, but he was too fast."
Pacquiao said he has no plans to seek a fifth title in a fifth weight class. "I feel much stronger and powerful at 135 pounds," he said. "That’s where I intend to stay."
The undercard had more than its fair share of controversy. Francisco Lorenzo was in big trouble late in the fourth round of the WBC interim super featherweight title fight against Humberto Soto when he took a knee and was hit in the back of the head by Soto with 17 seconds left in the round.
Lorenzo was hurt, and two ringside physicians attended to him.
Meanwhile, referee Joe Cortez conferred with Nevada Athletic Commission chairman John Bailey and executive director Keith Kizer and, after five minutes of discussion, disqualified Soto for an illegal punch. Soto, a 9-1 favorite, fell to 43-7-2. Lorenzo improved to 33-4.
"I was looking at the man, and he was taking the knee, and I was going to let him take the count, but that’s when he took the punch behind the head." Cortez said. "When you hit a man behind the head when he’s down, that’s a disqualification.
"I watched the replay to make sure I saw that, and that’s what I saw. I had to disqualify him."
In the WBO featherweight championship, Steven Luevano retained his title after he and Mario Santiago battled to a 12-round draw. Judge Harry Davis had Luevano ahead 117-111, and Duane Ford had Santiago winning, 115-113. Dave Moretti scored it 114-114.
Santiago (19-1-1) appeared to have Luevano in trouble several times, particularly in the fifth and 10th rounds. But Luevano (35-1-1) stayed on his feet.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.