by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LAS VEGAS – “If you guys give me the license plate of the truck that hit me, I’d appreciate it.”
The crowd in the media room laughed but it wasn’t funny. It was a reality.
The quote was David Diaz’s sarcastic opening statement in the post fight press conference. His pale face bruised blue and battered red. He had a large black gash from the coagulated blood over his right eye that required stitches, another one above his nose and a swollen left lip the size of a quarter. In fact, just minutes before, Diaz was laid out face fi rst on the canvas like a truck really did come in and hit him.
But this truck’s name was Manny Pacquiao and he even stopped and offered him a hand.
“Today, was the day we lost, no excuses,” said Diaz. “That [expletive] was fast. He came in pretty good. He’s a champion. He’s a good fighter; my respect and my hats off to him.”
The Super Featherweight Champion Pacquiao, the fighting pride of the Philippines, came out fast and strong demolishing the Mexican American Diaz for nine solid rounds in front of 8,362 mostly Filipino crowds at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, last Saturday night.
Pacquiao captured Diaz’s World Boxing Council’s [WBC] Lightweight title, making him the first Asian and Filipino to win four world titles in four different weight divisions. He also continued his streak of besting Mexican opponents.
After starting his career at the age of 16 as a 106-pound strawweight, there were reservations whether Pacquiao would be able to stand up to the former Olympian Diaz at 135 pounds. Last Saturday, those who doubted were obviously wrong.
“I feel very comfortable in that weight,” said Pacquiao. “I feel stronger at 135.” And it showed.
If Pacquiao were a truck, he would have finished Diaz off with one swift punch. It was too bad for Diaz. Pacquiao’s not a truck and Diaz took a pounding all nightlong.
It was a beautiful massacre for those who follow the sweet science. At times, painful to watch but artistically well performed.
From the opening bell, Pacquiao danced and threw combinations while eluding Diaz’s looping left hooks. Right, right jab, left cross, in-and-out, Pacquiao moved. He swayed left. He swayed right. Pacquiao might as well have been doing the waltz.
Towards the end of the first round, blood was already dripping from the top of Diaz’s nose.
It was a sign of things to come.
By the mid-rounds, Pacquiao continued to land his combinations at a ferocious rate. He parried Diaz’s attacks. His counter right hands were accurately timed. He showed poised and patience. He danced like a butterfly around Diaz, and stung like a bee ala Muhammed Ali.
As a result, Diaz’s face was flush red. His white trunks were soaked pink from the dripping blood. Diaz had a cut above his nose, a gash above his right eye, black eye in his left, and a swollen left lip. The cut above Diaz’s right eye was so serious it required a number of mid-round doctor stoppages.
It was truly a bloody mess, a one-sided affair.
The crowd wondered when referee Vic Drakulich would stop the fight.
Pacquiao admits he wondered about that too.
“There was one round [when] I told the referee, ‘look at this guy, he has a bad cut. You need to stop this fight.’ The referee told me no and to continue.”
The Chicago native son, Diaz continued to fight on. It was a resilient Rocky I performance. He trudged towards Pacquiao lunging punches but to no avail.
Finally, the 32-year-old succumbed to the beating. Pacquiao’s speed was just too much for the slower Diaz.
In the 2:24th minute of the ninth round, Pacquiao landed a perfectly timed left hook to Diaz’s iron jaw. Diaz face planted the canvas before rolling over on his back. Referee Drakulich didn’t bother to count and waved the fight off immediately. As a sign of good faith, Pacquiao on his way to the corner tried to help the ailing Diaz before celebrating.
“He’s so fast. I had no idea,” said Diaz. “Fast, fast, fast. Amazingly, fast. He’s just faster than I expected. I got tricked by his speed.”
“Manny’s best performance of his life,” said Trainer Freddie Roach. “We fought a great fight. We had a great game plan… this was the best Pacquiao yet. At 135 pounds, he looks great.” Roach said coming into the fight, he was cautious of the stronger Diaz.
“We knew Diaz is a strong guy,” he added. “If we stood there and traded with him, we knew it would give him a chance to win the fight. It was better to hit him then step off to the side before landing a combination. And it worked perfectly.”
The 29-year-old Filipino improves his record to (47-3-2, 35 KOs).
Pacquiao said that this fight meant more to him not just because he made boxing history but wanted to win for his kababayans at home.
“I’m just so happy that I made history,” said Pacquiao. “I’m really glad I won this fight. I dedicate this [win] to my countrymen that suffered from the typhoon [Fengshen]. I’m just really happy that I won tonight.”