How would the great Ricky Hatton have fared against the great Manny Pacquiao had the two met in their respective primes? “Hitman” looks back

It’s almost five years ago since Manny Pacquiao scored that brutally terrifying 2nd-round knockout over Ricky Hatton. Going into the fight in Las Vegas in May of 2009, many people were expecting Hatton to either: give Pac-Man a serious run for his money, or: actually defeat him with his advantages in size and physical strength. This line of thinking was completely blown out of the water after less than six-minutes of action, as Pacquiao scored a KO for the ages.

Still, all these years later, Hatton, now retired and secure in the knowledge that he gave his all in each and every fight of his career, thinks back to that night a half-decade ago. Could Hatton, had he prepared himself properly, with a hassle-free training camp, have beaten the southpaw dynamo? Would the peak Ricky Hatton, the fighting machine that upset the great Kostya Tszyu, have been too much for the man who turned pro as a 106-pounder all those years ago in The Philippines?

Hatton has nothing but respect for Pacquiao, one of only three men to have defeated him, yet he thinks that had he met him during his “Kostya Tszyu-era” he could have beaten him.

Writing exclusively for The Manchester Evening News, Hatton says he “always wonders what would have happened” had he fought Pacquiao while at his very best.

“I always wonder what might have been if I had faced Manny Pacquiao at my best,” Hatton writes.

“It is well-documented the issues I had in my training camp for that fight. If I could turn back the clock I would have said, ‘Listen, I’m knackered. I need a week off.’ I’m not saying I would have beaten Pacquiao that night but I would have had a better crack at the whip. In one of the biggest fights of your career, you don’t want to be thinking ‘what if?’ I can look back on the [Floyd] Mayweather fight and think I didn’t do too bad. But with Pacquiao I will always wonder ‘what if he got me at my best?’

“I think I could have beaten him in my Kostya Tszyu era – I honestly do. Kostya was every bit as big a puncher as Manny and I was young, unbeaten and fresh. I didn’t have the miles on the clock and I could walk through walls against Kotstya. I’d like to think I could have done that against Manny.”

It is indeed well-documented that Hatton had a fraught, even poor, training camp heading into the huge clash with Pacquiao. Floyd Mayweather Senior, who had replaced long-time coach and trusted friend Billy Graham, was simply not a good choice of trainer for Hatton – many experts, including Graham himself, said this at the time. And who knows how much Ricky’s choice of lifestyle – drinking and partying to legendary excesses – affected him and his punch resistance.

Fans of Pacquiao will find it very hard to envisage Hatton doing much better against their hero; while Hatton fans know in their hearts that a prime Hatton, a hungry Hatton, a non-partying Hatton, would have given Pac-Man a fierce time of it.

Throw it open to the readers of this website, and what do you guys think?

Hatton is right on a few things though – Tszyu was a murderous puncher, Tszyu was every bit as ferocious as Pacquiao, and Ricky himself was at his absolute blistering peak at the time of that unforgettable 2005 encounter.

Could THAT version of Ricky Hatton have derailed the Pac-Man express?

Talk about it.