Pacquiao Knocks Diaz Cold in 9 to Capture the WBC Lightweight Title
By Gabriel Montoya at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (Jun 29, 2008) (Photo © German Villasenor)  
There are few things like watching a Manny Pacquiao fight ringside. His crowd of supporters certainly gives Ricky Hatton’s fans a run for their money in the noise department. They cheer at every flinch, feint, and punch thrown and landed by their hero. Combined with his dynamic fighting style, it adds up to an electric atmosphere unmatched by few. Saturday night’s fight between David Diaz and Manny Pacquiao for Diaz’ WBC lightweight title at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino was no exception.

Pacquiao, fighting his first fight at 135 lbs, came out the gates quick and aggressive as ever. Right off the bat he threw two right jabs and a left to the body of Diaz who looked to be mentally calibrating for Pacquiao’s obvious speed advantage while hiding behind his shoulder roll defense. Early on, Pacquiao appeared to be hitting a lot of gloves and elbows but would occasionally get through with blistering left hands.

Pacquiao looked sharp to open the second as he came at Diaz who obliged by diving inside and digging to the body. Crisp left hands punctuated the first minute of the fight and by the second half of the round, Diaz was stuck looking at Pacquiao and wondering how to cut through that speed.

The third was punctuated by a cut over Diaz right eye (presumably from a knife-like Pacquiao punch) that would plague him for the rest of the fight.

Through the middle rounds, Pacquiao would settle into a slower rhythm but would control the action with quicker footwork that set up brutal lefts and rights while keeping Diaz either at bay or turning and getting tagged.

The right side of Diaz face was a red curtain. Diaz for his part was getting to Pacquiao’s body and the Filipino phenom looked for a second like he might be slowing down. Unfortunately for Diaz, he had neither the tools not the energy to do anything about it.

In the eighth round, Pacquiao appeared sharp and ready to end things. The previous he had apparently been resting as he came out throwing tons of leather. He stunned Diaz with a left hand lead and flurried but backed off and took the fight back to center ring, keeping Diaz along the ropes. Then he drove in and raked Diaz with a blistering combo. Diaz looked ready to go as the bell sounded.

The fateful ninth saw the action slow down a bit as both men looked to box early. Diaz still seemed to be recovering from the previous rounds’ carnage but it would end suddenly as Pacquiao threw a right jab that Diaz slipped, leaving him open for a short left hand that he didn’t see coming. Diaz fell face first and was out before he hit the ground. The ref immediately called a halt to the action at 2:24 of the ninth.

“My first concern was Diaz,” said Pacquiao afterwards. “That he was okay. That’s what I was praying for in the corner.”

With the win, Pacquiao takes the WBC title and sets himself for lucrative matches with Ricky Hatton, Oscar De la Hoya, or possibly a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. The sky is the limit for the Filipino icon.

“I feel much stronger and powerful at 135,” said Pacquiao, which probably isn’t good news for the rest of the lightweights.

“It was a beautiful performance,” said trainer Freddie Roach. “He has never boxed better. I told him not to trade with Diaz because that is when he is dangerous. Stay in and out and do what you do best. “

Pacquiao obliged.

Gabriel at: .

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