May 3, 2009 in Boxing
I still can’t believe it.
Just hours after I posted a prediction that Manny Pacquiao would beat Ricky Hatton by an unanimous decision, the Filipino national hero proved once again why he’s the number 1 pound-four-pound fighter in the world by absolutely annihilating Ricky Hatton in 2 rounds in Las Vegas. As at the time of this post, an almost-full video of the fight could be found on YouTube, but rest assured it will be taken down, though I’m sure there will be other resources available online if you know where to look.
The easy victory sets up a salivating bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr (son of Hatton’s trainer), who unsurprisingly announced his return to boxing on the same day (after prematurely retiring following his 10th round KO of Hatton in December 2007) to “reclaim what’s mine”. Mayweather Jr will fight lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who gave Pacquiao all he could handle, on 18 July 2009, with a view to squaring off with Pacquiao before the end of the year.
The Pacquiao/Hatton fight is well worth seeing because it was brutal and spectacular, though probably not worth buying through PPV because it only lasted 2 rounds (and the undercards were apparently crap).
The bout started off with Hatton trying his usual rough tactics, trying to force Pacquiao into the ropes and clinching whenever he got a chance. He was actually quite successful in the first minute or so of the fight in that regard, but it didn’t have any material effect on Pacquiao, who was sticking to his game plan, throwing lightning quick combos and getting out of the way whenever he sensed danger. The most effective punch in the first 90 seconds of the round was Pacquiao’s right hook, which had landed flush several times already.
In the second half of the first round, Pacquiao started unloading some big hooks on Hatton and had him on the ropes. And then, with just under a minute left in the round, Pacquiao lands a big right hook just as Hatton was about to swing, and Hatton drops to his knees. Hatton manages to get up at the count of 8, but then continues to get thumped by lightning quick combinations for the rest of the round until with less than 10 seconds to go, when Pacquiao landed a stunning straight left that drops Hatton again, flat on his back in the corner. He manages to get up and survive the round, but the stunned expression on Hatton’s face said it all.
Hatton begins the second round trying to be aggressive, throwing big punches that mostly missed the mark, then tying up Pacquiao and throwing punches during the clinch. On the other hand, Pacquiao remained calm, throwing quick, precise punches and spinning and turning out of the way whenever Hatton tried to unload. Then about 30 seconds in, Pacquiao starts to throw some big punches of his own, and actually gets caught by a left hook from Hatton, who continues to clinch and punch. With about 40 seconds to go in the round, Pacquiao starts throwing some wild punches to try and KO Hatton but without success. However, he eventually goes back to the precision-style boxing that had worked so well for him, and with 8 seconds left in Round 2, Pacquiao unleashes a devastating left counter hook that lands square on Hatton’s jaw. Hatton drops like a puppet with its strings cut, and one quick look from the referee was all it took for him to wave off the fight without a count.
Hatton is carried out on a stretcher while Pacquiao celebrates.
I’m usually pretty terrible when it comes to predictions (of any kind) so I’m not surprised that I got it wrong. At least I got the winner right! Most people who predicted a Pacquiao victory thought it would happen in the later rounds, not in Round 2. I don’t think anyone predicted it to be this easy for Pacquiao. Even ESPN’s Fight Night Round 4 simulation had Pacquiao climbing off the canvas to win by KO in round 11. As it turns out, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was probably closest when he predicted a KO victory in the third round (but he later admitted he was just trying to get under Floyd Mayweather Sr’s skin).
For those that thought Pacquiao was devastating against Oscar De La Hoya, they need to see this fight. Against Hatton, Pacquiao had a slightly different game plan, but it was equally effective. He maintained his precision boxing with rapid hand speed and footwork, but also mixed in some power hooks. Hatton had no idea what was coming. Many people thought perhaps Manny would underestimate Ricky, but it turned out to be the other way around. Hatton simply had no answer for Pacquiao’s speed and precision. There was also little of that head movement and improved defence that Floyd Mayweather Sr was talking about before the fight. Or maybe it was because Pacquiao was just too fast for him. Further, even though Hatton was perhaps physically stronger, Pacquiao’s punches seemed to be much heavier.
“I’m surprised the fight was so easy,” Pacquiao said after the fight. “He was wide open for the right hook. I knew he would be looking for my left.”
Freddie Roach, on the other hand, made it seem like he knew the outcome from the start. “The fight was no surprise to me. We know he always pumps his hands before he throws a punch. He’s a sucker for the right hook.”
For the bout, Pacquiao landed 73 of 127 punches (57.4%), whereas Hatton only managed to connect on 18 of 78 punches (23.1%).
Fortunately, Hatton was not badly hurt. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution but didn’t appear to suffer any serious injuries. “It was a hard loss but I’m okay,” he said. “I really didn’t see the punch coming but it was a great shot. I know I’ll be okay.” He should be, after earning $8 million for the fight.
So it seems Hatton, as humiliating as the loss was, will not be seeking retirement. On the other hand, what does the future hold for his new trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr? They had one decent showing together in Hatton’s fight against Malignaggi, but this performance against Pacquiao demonstrated very little, if any, noticeable improvement. If the rumors of a rift between the two before the fight had any truth to them, chances are you won’t see Mayweather Sr in Hatton’s corner again.
As for Manny Pacquiao, who earned $12 million for the bout, the sky is the limit. The only logical fight for him now is Floyd Mayweather Jr, and if it comes to fruition, will be the biggest fight in boxing in years. The current pound-for-pound champion against the undefeated guy who handed him that mythical title by retiring prematurely. However, one must not overlook Mayweather Jr’s July 18 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, who is about as dangerous of an opponent as you can get for a return/tune-up fight. If Mayweather Jr shows any rust or loses the form he once had, there is a chance JMM might shock him back into retirement.
Then again, this is Floyd Mayweather Jr we’re talking about (and JMM is moving up in 2 weight classes), so in all likelihood we’ll get to see the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight in December 2009. I hope so. At this point in time, it’s hard to predict a winner. Do you go with the in-form, two-fisted fighting machine that is Manny Pacquiao, or the undefeated technican and defensive genius in Floyd Mayweather Jr? It’s a difficult fight to pick, but at least with Manny Pacquiao you can be sure that it’ll be an exciting fight.
And make no mistake, the crowd will be on Pacquiao’s side when they get into the ring. In the press conference announcing his return, the Pretty Boy showed the same cockiness and arrogance that I’m sure will make many boxing fans root for the humble Pacquiao. “I guess I just missed boxing,” Mayweather said. “Somebody’s got to keep the sport up and running. Why not me?” Mmm, it seemed to me that Manny Pacquiao had been keeping the sport up and running pretty well without him. Mayweather also proclaimed: “I’m still the biggest draw in boxing. Everybody wants to fight me because they know I’m the cash cow.” Does Mayweather honestly believe that he, and not Pacquiao, is the biggest draw in boxing right now?
If there is a God, please let this fight happen!