Las Vegas - Manny Pacquiao punished Oscar de la Hoya for eight rounds on Saturday, his technical knockout triumph over the US superstar underscoring the Filipino icon's status as best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Pacquiao's speed and precision were too much for De la Hoya, whose left eye was swelling shut as he declined to come out for the ninth round.
He sat quietly on his stool as his corner decided he had taken enough punishment and referee Tony Weeks officially stopped the fight.
Pacquiao improved to 48-3 with two drawn and 36 wins inside the distance with the technical knockout
Pacquiao, the reigning World Boxing Council lightweight champion, moved up two weight classes to take the lucrative bout with De la Hoya, a 10-time world champion in six different weight classes who fell to 39-6 with 30 knockouts.
The disparity in size, most obvious in De la Hoya's four-inch height advantage, proved no handicap for the 29-year-old Pacquiao, who was ahead on all three judges' scorecards when the fight was halted.
Two of the judges gave every round to Pacquiao, while a third gave De la Hoya one round.
Pacquiao was all eagerness from the opening bell, when he raced to the center of the ring buoyed by chants of "Manny! Manny!" from a sizeable contingent of Filipino fans at the MGM Grand.
But the famously aggressive Pacquiao also showed shrewd judgment, darting in to land blows while eluding the sluggish-looking De la Hoya.
De la Hoya, who was at his lightest fighting weight since 2001, may have been adversely affected by the drop in weight.
"I felt empty, without power," he said. "I tried to go forward but Pacquiao's leg speed and movement didn't allow me to connect with anything."
The seventh round was all Pacquiao, as De la Hoya seemed unable to launch a punch and merely tried to cover up.
'Deserves all the creditt'
The eighth was more of the same as Pacquiao handed De la Hoya one of the worst defeats of his career.
"Manny Pacquiao is a great fighter," De la Hoya said. "He deserves all the credit.
"He fought a great fight. He was he better man," added De la Hoya, who at 35 was left pondering his future.
"My heart still wants to fight that's for sure," De la Hoya said in a television interview from the ring. "But when your physical doesn't respond, what can you do?"