MANILA--President Arroyo congratulated People's Champ Manny Pacquiao for winning the WBC lightweight title, describing the fight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Saturday (June 29) (Sunday in Manila) in Las Vegas as a “masterpiece.”
“What a masterpiece,” Mrs. Arroyo said in a statement sent by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza from San Francisco, California.
Pacquiao, who knocked out Mexican-American David Diaz to win his fourth title, has proven anew to the world the ability and strength of Filipinos in the boxing arena, Mrs. Arroyo said.
Pacquiao made history by knocking out Diaz in the ninth round, winning his fourth title before a jampacked crowd.
Pacquiao sent a battered Diaz down the canvas 2:24 in Round 9 to snatch the WBC lightweight title, thus becoming the first Asian to win four titles in four different divisions.
Interviewed after the fight, Pacquiao said he was impressed with Diaz.
“I'm very surprised. You know, Diaz, I think he's the toughest opponent that I've had...and I'm very surprised that he kept a lot of strong punches and power punches,” Pacquiao said.
Asked if he will stay at lightweight, the champ said: “It depends on Bob's decision. I can fight 140 or I can fight 135 lbs.”
For his part, Bob Arum, the promoter of the “Lethal Combination” fight card headlined by Pacquiao and Diaz, said the strict regimen he and chief trainer Freddie Roach imposed on Pacquiao paid off.
Arum said that at the onset, he and Roach decided to keep Pacquiao in the gym in Los Angeles, California, to train for the fight instead of opting for a longer stay in the Philippines.
“No fight, no training in the Philippines anymore. Look at the shape he's in, look at the punches he threw,” Arum added.
The Top Rank big boss added that he and Roach are also concerned with Pacquiao's activities outside the ring, especially immediately before a scheduled match.
“We do. That's why Freddie and me beat the hell out of him,” Arum said of Pacquiao's post-fight dates in the past, which included politics and entertainment.
Pacquiao ran for a congressional seat in his native General Santos City in the Philippines in the May 2007 elections. He lost.
Aside from politics, the champ also hosts a weekly television show.
Another one for the ‘Pacman'
Before winning the lightweight title, Pacquiao won the WBC super featherweight and flyweight belts and the IBF super bantamweight crown. He also held Ring Magazine's super featherweight title.
The Filipino's date with history was unquestioned during the fight, as he outclassed a slower Diaz throughout the match.
Pacquiao was the clear aggressor starting from the opening round as he launched a vastly improved right hand against Diaz.
By Round 4, Diaz already had a puffy left eye and cut on the bridge of his nose. In Round 5, his right brow was badly bleeding.
In Round 6, referee Vic Drakulich had to temporarily stop the fight to have the ringside doctor check on Diaz's wound.
Pacquiao continued to punish the Mexican-American in the succeeding rounds, until he caught Diaz with a one-two to the chin some late in Round 9.
The Filipino's left fist sent the champ to the canvas face first.
The fight ended with Diaz lying flat on the canvas.
Pacquiao's record improved to 47-3-2 with 36 victories by knockout. Diaz, meanwhile, suffered his second career-loss against 34 wins.
Before the fight, most analysts saw the Filipino having the edge over Diaz in terms of skills, speed and punching power.
However, speculations about his added weight spread as observers expressed concern on how it would affect his performance inside the ring.
Pacquiao was a super featherweight (130 pounds) when he won the division's WBC crown from Juan Manuel Marquez on March 15. He immediately climbed to lightweight (135 pounds) to challenge Diaz.
The Filipino has been dubbed “The Mexi-cutioner” for his successive victories against Mexican fighters in his last fights.
Diaz is a Mexican-American born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.