It’s official; my head is spinning. No, it’s not because I was at a work colleague’s stag night over the weekend (although that certainly hasn’t helped!) but it’s because I’ve just seen Manny Pacquiao destroy Ricky Hatton inside two rounds.
Although I was among the minority tipping Hatton to pull off the upset victory, that certainly doesn’t mean I never gave Manny the chance to win, because I certainly did. So, the shocking part for me was not the victory itself but the manner of the victory. Ricky Hatton vanquished inside two rounds and left flat on his back in the centre of the ring. Unimaginable.
I didn’t think that any fighter could do that Hatton so quickly. When Pacquiao’s trainer, the renowned Freddie Roach, said Pacquiao would take Hatton out inside three rounds I dismissed his comments as the usual pre fight mind games and bravado. It turns out that Freddie knew precisely what he was talking about.
I honestly don’t know where to start to talk about this fight but first of all, I must salute Manny Pacquiao. Even with Floyd Mayweather Jr. now official out of retirement, the Filipino is unquestionably the number one pound for pound fighter on the planet. Pacquiao used to be an aggressive whirlwind of a fighter but Roach has turned his man into a complete boxer puncher. Against Hatton, Pacquiao was more than happy to concede centre ring and to box on the outside, something he managed with aplomb.
Manny’s hand speed is truly something special; when he sees an opening he manages to land four or five hurtful, vicious punches when ordinary fighters would look to land one or two punches. Pacquiao’s dismissal of Hatton is possibly the best performance of his career and it’s caused me to reconsider Pacquiao’s win over Oscar De La Hoya again. Perhaps ‘The Golden Boy’ wasn’t a shot fighter in his last contest but simply unable to cope with the amazing speed and ferocity of the Filipino fighters attacks.
Already we’ve heard many so called experts point to Hatton’s lifestyle as contributing to his downfall and some even pointing to the fact Hatton has been a 10 stone fighter for too long and making the weight has caught up with him. Let’s remember that this is the same lifestyle and weight that took Hatton to a superb victory against Paulie Malignaggi six months ago. Manny deserve all the credit for this victory rather than those who are instead trying to point to Hatton’s failures.
So let’s now turn and look at Ricky Hatton, quite possibly the most fanatically supported fighter in the world, with over 25,000 fans travelling all the way to Las Vegas from the United Kingdom. As we’ve alluded to earlier, this was as conclusive a defeat as is possible for Hatton to experience. Floored twice in round one, Hatton did manage to make some kind of recovery in the second, being more competitive and landing some decent shots. But one big left hand in the closing seconds of round two ended the contest emphatically; the everlasting image of the contest will be Hatton, flat on his back with the referee, Kenny Bayless, not even bothering to count.
So what went wrong for Hatton – was Pacquiao simply too good? Well, there is no doubt that Hatton’s tactics could have been better, he was pretty straight up with his chin higher than I’d like and his hands were also on the low side. Ricky seemed to march forward like that with a distinct lack of head movement on the way in, which made him easy pickings for the phenomenal ‘Pac-Man’. Hatton’s footwork was also pretty poor and rather than trying to work the angles to create openings, he tried to bludgeon Pacquiao head on.
But, what really stood out for me was Hatton’s lack of punch resistance. Forced to hold on in the opening stanza before he had even hit the canvas for the first time, it was plain that Hatton simply couldn’t handle the power of Pacquiao. It’s something I am still confused about now, I mean Pacquiao made his career at 9st 4lbs yet here he was hurting the bona-fide 10st number one with every shot. I know Hatton has been hurt before, perhaps most surprisingly by Luis Collazo and most emphatically by Floyd Mayweather Jr. but he is certainly not a ‘chinny’ fighter.
Again though, perhaps instead of looking for shortfalls in Hatton we should instead be looking for positive’s in Pacquiao – it is more than possible that Pacquiao’s regime in developing his body into the 10st light welterweight category, under the tutelage of Freddie Roach and former world heavyweight champion Michael Moorer, has seen him increase his power, which combined with his sensational speed simply left Hatton unable to cope.
So, where does Hatton go now? There is no doubt Hatton has been a superb champion, whatever the detractors will say now – aren’t we all wise after the event. Hatton has won multiple titles in two weight divisions and reached the pinnacle of the sport in boxing the pound for pound number one twice. Crucially though, he has fallen short on both occasions and whilst he is destined to be a British boxing great and future hall of famer, the mythical pound for pound title seems like it will always be one step too far for Manchester’s ‘Hitman’.
Retirement to me would seem the most sensible option, despite (or possibly because) the fact I am a huge Ricky Hatton fan. There are potentially a couple of huge domestic clashes not too far away, should Amir Khan defeat Andreas Kotelnik on June 27th (for the WBA light welterweight title) then a Hatton-Khan title fight would do huge business in England. But, it would also be a huge come down for Ricky. That is not meant to detract from Khan’s ability but it is a case of two fighters being from different era’s and for Hatton, I’m not sure he could get fired up to face Khan.
The other option, perhaps more intriguing, is that he faces his old nemesis Junior Witter, should he manage to defeat Devon Alexander for the vacant WBC light welterweight title. A Hatton-Witter clash has been mooted for years, before Hatton even won his first world title against Kostya Tszyu. It’s a clash that could fill any football stadium in England and one that Hatton could certainly get motivated for – there is genuine dislike between these boxers with a lot of trash talk having taking place over the years about who avoided who. But again, it’s a level below what Ricky has been operating at and for me, it does not offer Ricky a route back to the pinnacle of the sport.
So the fallout from this fight is huge. Hatton is staring retirement in the face, whilst Pacquiao’s star is shining brighter than any figure in the sport has for the past ten years. Here we have a champion to be proud of, humble, talented and exciting. A Pacquiao vs. Mayweather Jr. match up, should it take place later this year, would undoubtedly be the biggest contest the sport has seen in the past 20 years.
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