By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS
LAREDO, Texas — Because of his scintillating 9th round stoppage win over granite-chinned David Diaz for the world Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title in June 28 in Las Vegas, newly crowned world lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao has been called as “the Philippines’ number one wonder of the world.” [Click to view Manny Pacquiao videos]
The accolade was heaped upon Pacquiao by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito “Lito” Atienza who was at ringside when the popular Filipino knockout artist bludgeoned the Mexican-American defending titlist to grab the WBC 135-lb belt.
“We have lots of beautiful tourism spots in the country today and many of them have landed in the top 10 wonders of the world,” Atienza declared in a mass officiated by New Jersey-based Filipino priest Marlon Beop. “But I am proud to announce that the country’s number one wonder of the world is Manny Pacquiao.”
Pacquiao (47-3, 36 KOs) eclipsed the record of any Asian paid mauler by becoming the first to pocket four world titles in four different divisions – flyweight, superbantamweight, superfeatherweight and lightweight.
He also overshadowed the universal stardom of the famed Thai national hero Khaosai Galaxy (49-1, 43 KOs), who was never dethroned as World Boxing Association (WBA) superflyweight champion until his retirement on December 21, 1991.
Pacquiao also broke the jinx of fellow Visayan and Hall of Famer former world junior lightweight king Gabriel “Flash” Elorde who twice attempted and failed to capture the world lightweight crown after suffering brutal knockout defeats to Carlos Ortiz of Puerto Rico in the 60’s.
Galaxy holds the record as the longest reigning Asian world champion with 19 title defenses, second only to heavyweight legend Joe Louis who had 21 title defenses.
Elorde, on the other hand, was the longest reigning world champion in Asia before Galaxy; winning the crown over Harold Gomes on March 16,1960 and losing it to Yushiaki Numata on June 15, 1967.
Although he broke his right hand, Pacquiao, 29, was all praises for the fallen Diaz, 32, who credited Pacquiao’s potent speed and power in giving him the worst beating in his career that began in 1996, the year he represented the United States in the Atlanta World Summer Olympics.