LAS VEGAS Boxing promoter Bob Arum has worked with Muhammad Ali, "Sugar" Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler but he believes Filipino Manny Pacquiao is the best he has seen.
Pacquiao stopped Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto in the 12th round of their title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday to become WBO welterweight champion and win a seventh world title in an unprecedented seventh weight class.
"I've promoted Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter I have ever seen," Arum told reporters at the MGM Grand after Pacquiao's win.
Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach endorsed Arum's statement.
"Compared to all those names, he's as good as any of them," Roach said. "He's the greatest fighter of his era, for sure. 100 percent."
The fighter himself, however, was reluctant to make comparisons.
"I don't want to compare my achievement to any fighter," said Pacquiao, 50-3-2 (38 KOs).
"I'm just doing my job, to give a good fight. My goal is to give happiness and enjoyment to the people who are always watching us."
Cotto began the contest strongly behind a stiff left jab, but his opponent found his range in the second round and scored knockdowns in the third and fourth.
In the second half of the bout, the Puerto Rican champion, bloodied and bruised, mostly circled and retreated hoping to survive until the final bell.
But a Pacquiao barrage prompted referee Kenny Bayless to halt the fight after 55 seconds of the 12th round.
"Miguel Cotto has always been a courageous fighter," said Arum.
"He was just in with a guy tonight who showed me ... that he is certainly the best fighter of this era and maybe of all time."
Pacquiao had bruising around his eyes and a bandage around his head after his left ear was drained of blood by doctors following the fight.
Cotto did not appear at the post-fight news conference as he was taken to hospital for precautionary scans.
Cotto said in a statement he was OK.
"I know I'm cut, I know I'm swollen. I just had a fight, that how I'm supposed to look," he said.
"I did my best. I just fought the best fighter I ever fought. I hope the fans enjoyed a great fight."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)