19.02.09 – By Jake Roberts: On May 2nd, Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao will go toe to toe for what is the ‘P4P’ championship. It already has boxing fans salivating at the prospect of their two all-action styles clashing in Vegas. There are so many intangibles with this fight I don’t know where to start, so lets examine their recent performances. 2008 was a phenomenal year for the Pacman, starting with a razor thin split decision over world class Juan Manuel Marquez..
Despite the controversy, these two guys put on a breathtaking spectacle for twelve rounds and neither really deserved to lose. Next he disposes of the extremely game but limited David Diaz. Diaz was the perfect opponent for Manny’s lightweight debut; his plodding feet and not much head movement meant it was just target practice for the Philippines. Then in December he is catapulted into the big league with a dominant win over the Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya. Whatever people say about this fight you cannot deny this was a masterpiece by the little man. Ok, so De La Hoya looked a bit shot but you could argue that Pacquiao made him look like that. The speed of his foot movement, his balance and combinations just blew him away.
On December 8th 2007, the Hitman was picked apart for the first time in his career by the surgeon Floyd Jr. This was a competitive bout for six rounds, but Maywether showed why he is the best in the world, taking advantage of Hatton’s increasingly gung ho tactics. Ricky still has frustration about the way the referee handled the bout. You may agree or disagree; personally I feel Joe Cortez was getting in way too much during the first four rounds. Whether that changed the result of the fight who knows, only a rematch in England would tell us. The ‘homecoming’ win over Juan Lazcano was a rusty performance, presumably because he was coming off such a crushing defeat. Then it emerges that training camps with Billy Graham are not what they once were resulting in Floyd sr taking over the reigns. This proved a wise decision after he took his nearest rival, Paulie Malignaggi to school for eleven rounds. As a result of his new trainer he showed more jabs, feints and head movement, which he will need in abundance against Pacquiao.
An obvious factor to look at in this fight is the weight and the size of the fighters. Hatton was born at 140 pounds and his best performances have come there. Pacquiao has never fought at 140 and is therefore an unknown quantity. The weight was not really an issue for him against De La Hoya because he was allowed to box his own fight, getting in and out quickly without wrestling and inside fighting. I imagine the first thing Hatton will do in this fight is get inside and see how strong he really is. In my opinion Hatton will throw him around like a rag doll, which will take a lot more out of Pacquiao. The tactical battle of both trainers will centre on this issue, with Hatton trying to impose his strength inside and Pacquiao trying to box from the outside.
Strength and punching power are two separate attributes, and although I’ve never been in a ring with Pacquiao, I imagine his punching power is more fearsome. He has scored some incredible knockouts, albeit in the lower divisions and because of this we don’t know if he really has the power to stop Hatton in his tracks. In contrast we know Hatton is a good puncher in this weight class, not a murderous puncher but one who can hurt you with the right shot. This could be a telling factor as the fight unfolds.
Pacquiao has a clear speed advantage of both hand and foot over his opponent. He has the ability to hit his rival with combinations and get out of range before they have time to react. This is the problem that De La Hoya and almost all his opponents have encountered. Hatton is no slouch either but he will have to be very sharp if he is going to catch him consistently.
This piece is entitled prediction, and as such I must give one despite my shocking record. I think Hatton knocks him out in the later rounds of what is a great fight. I feel his strength, body shots and aggression will pay dividends in the second half of the fight. My guess is that we will see an end similar to Cotto vs. Margarito where the little man simply has nothing left and folds. A fanciful idea I know, but I’ve got broad shoulders so the Pacquiao fans can unleash their bile on me.