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Pacquiao officially relinquishes lightweight title

Box_a_pacquiao_diaz_300_medium Manny Pacquiao officially vacated the WBC lightweight title he won against David Diaz last summer, which was a foregone conclusion as he has stated repeatedly he's never going back to 135 pounds, where he had just one fight.

Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KO) will face Ricky Hatton on May 2 for the junior welterweight championship of the world in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao's lone fight at 135 was memorable, as he moved up to utterly destroy a game and rugged David Diaz, who simply couldn't stop him or land anything of consequence. Pacquiao stopped Diaz in nine rounds before moving all the way up to 147 pounds, where he annihilated Oscar de la Hoya. He now moves back down to 140 for at least one fight. Speculation is already that he'll go back up to welterweight for a fight late in 2009 -- perhaps against Miguel Cotto -- should he beat Hatton.

The vacating of the belt is no surprise, obviously, and was really pretty long overdue. It also comes at a time whenthe 135-pound division is being hugely restructured. Though Pacquiao was already gone in spirit, his belt is now officially for the taking. The WBC could conceivably put it up for grabs in one of Golden Boy's four lightweight fights coming in April on PPV. It would not be surprising at all to see them sanction Casamayor-Julio Diaz or Valero-Pitalua for the title.

The division's lineal champion, Juan Manuel Marquez, fights top contender Juan Diaz on Saturday for Marquez's Ring championship as well as the vacant WBO and WBA titles. If it wasn't such short notice, it wouldn't even surprise me to see the WBC throw their strap into that one.

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