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Manny Pacquiao forced Shane Mosley into a defensive mode with an early knockdown and settled for a unanimous decision to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena here on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila). The Fighting Congressman from Sarangani tagged Mosley with a right jab then unloaded a left hook that floored the American in the third round.

Mosley beat the count, but was never the same after that. Hobbled by cramps in the left leg, Pacquiao was unable to finish off Mosley, disappointing many of the 16,412 fans who were expecting the eight-division world champion to hand the 39-year-old American his first knockout loss. To his compatriots back home, however, victory by any manner was enough cause for jubilation.

Pacquiao later said he was really intent on stopping Mosley but that the future Hall of Famer refused to trade punches as he normally does against other foes. As Mosley found out, Pacquiao was more powerful and faster than he thought.

Pacquiao, who was hardly marked when he appeared in coat-and-tie in the postfight press conference, raised his win-loss-draw record to 54-3-2 with 38 knockouts. Mosley, who wore dark shades to hide his reddened eyes, fell to 46-7-1, with one no-contest and 39 knockouts.