RingWise by Scott Yaniga
Pacquiao Cements Best P4P Reputation At
After the first minute of the recent Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao tiff, it only became of matter of when ‘Pac Man’ would starch the Britisher, not IF he would. While the pre-fight odds favored Pacquiao (bettors rooting for the favorite had to lay $250 to win $100), and many fight game cognoscenti figured the Fightin’ Filipino to eventually lay waste to the pallid U.K’er, absolutely no one was prepared for the brutal and sudden demolition of the heretofore resilient Hatton.
Within the first sixty seconds of the opening bell–which saw a strangely haggard-looking Hatton go after his foe with murderous, if ineffective, intent, scintillating southpaw Pacquiao immediately countered and penetrated the Brit’s guard with a blistering assortment of punches. With less than a minute left in the first, Manny slipped a Hatton jab and sent Ricky face first into the canvas with a textbook right hook. Arising at the count of eight, Hatton looked bewildered, and unsuccessfully attempted to elude Pacquiao, who trapped Hatton in his own corner and put him down for a second time, this coming by way of a vicious straight left. After again receiving the mandatory eight from ref Kenny Bayless, who looked ready to halt the proceedings right there, Hatton arose and stubbornly traded shots with Pacquiao.
Between rounds it was obvious that Hatton was a hurt fighter, as he barely acknowledged his corner’s commands. With the start of the second stanza, Pacquiao showed steely patience as he deftly avoided a desperate, lunging attack from Hatton and sized his man up for a finishing blow. As Hatton tried grappling Pacquiao, trying to turn the fight into a brawl, Manny cooly kept his guard up and countered occasionally. Towards the end of the second Manny drilled home a punishing right jab and quickly sent a short left cross into Hatton’s mush, sending him crashing into the canvas, the back of Ricky’s head making a resounding thud. Bayless didn’t bother with a count, simply waving the fight over as medical personnel rushed into the ring to aid the stricken Hatton.
It was several minutes and much medical attention before Hatton was able to show signs of life to a now-relieved crowd at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. A jubilant Pacquiao picked up the RING Magazine junior welterweight championship belt and cemented his current standing as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today.
Besides the shockingly-quick and easy demolition of Hatton, who managed to suffer through almost ten rounds of punishment before being TKO’d by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in their 2007 welterweight title bout, a quick rundown of Pacquiao’s ring accomplishments over the last six or seven years gives ample ammunition to those who prop him up as an all-time great; heady stuff for a 30-year old fighter.
After making his American debut as a super bantamweight (122 pounds) back in June, 2001, stopping African Lehlo Ledwaba in six rounds to lift his IBF title (Pacquiao had already held the WBC flyweight diadem), Manny gained many American fight fans for his reckless, power-packed displays, ones that usually featured blood, sometimes even his own. Such was the case when in his first bout after the Ledwaba win Manny took on seasoned Agapito Sanchez. In a super bantam match that equaled anything featherweights Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler threw at each other in their legendary, foul-filled bouts of the 1950’s, the late Sanchez and Manny used an assortment of low blows, elbows and foreheads, culminating in a six round technical draw.
After that, Pacquiao made three successful defenses of his belt before meeting Marco Antonio Barrera in November, 2003. In that one Manny fairly dominated and punished Barrera, with the Mexican’s corner finally throwing in the towel in the 11th round. Manny followed that impressive win up with a May, 2004 challenge of world featherweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez. That one went the full, scintillating 12 rounds, with Marquez retaining his title with a draw. What shocked everyone watching the fight was the Mexican champ’s ability to rise from the three knockdowns that Pacquiao scored on him in the opening round, going on to give as good as get for the remainder of the bout.
Manny engaged yet another legendary Mexican, super featherweight champion Erik Morales, in a trilogy of action fights that saw Pacquiao lose the first via close 12 round decision; win the second by scoring a 10th round TKO, and finish things with a flourish in the rubber match, scoring a vicious 3rd round knockout.
He then took on Barrera again, this time taking a clear-cut decision win and effectively ending Barrera’s time as a world class fighter. Manny took a squeaker of a split 12 round duke over Juan Manuel Marquez in their March, 2008 rematch, then stepped up to the lightweight division to relieve David Diaz of his WBC belt via 9th round TKO in June of the same year. These auspicious wins set up the mega fight with ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya that December, and saw Oscar receive the most sustained and brutal beating of his long, illustrious career.
Moving back down to the 140-pound limit in taking on Hatton, there were many who felt that Pacquiao had fattened his record at the expense of old and/or war-worn battlers such as Oscar, Marquez and Morales. They could make no such argument for Hatton, whose only loss came against Mayweather in their 2007 bout. Prior to that Hatton had been the long time ruler of the junior welters, even ending the great Kostya Tszyu’s career back in 2005 via a brutal 11th round stoppage win.
It was argued that Hatton was the naturally stronger, bigger guy, more used to fighting at the 140-pound limit. That was hardly the case in this one as Pacquiao easily mauled and clutched with Hatton when the Britisher attempted to go phone-booth style on him. Manny also looked like the ‘After’ picture in a Charles Atlas muscle-building ad, whereas poor, pale and drawn Hatton resembled the guy getting sand kicked in his face by the bully.
After viewing this particular fight, it can be safely said that there is currently no one in this weight class that will offer a serious challenge to Pacquiao. And while former undefeated welterweight boss Floyd Mayweather, Jr. announced his comeback with a July, 2009 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez in a catchweight bout around the 140-pound mark, he is a fair distance away from being ready to take on Pacquiao, assuming, that is, that he gets past Marquez with no great difficulty. If he does score big over the popular Mexican action fighter, look for a Pacquiao-Mayweather, Jr. championship bout to be the biggest event of the summer of 2010.
Ring Wise Trivia Question: Even though there have been a few sons who followed their fathers’ footsteps into the squared circle, one duo shares the unfortunate distinction of both being knocked out by the same man, many years apart. Can you name the father, son and opponent? Hint: The victor has a “Jersey” connection.
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