By Ted Sares – Two great sportsmen, two great warriors; it makes it difficult to choose one over the other but choose I must and I’m going with Manny Pacquiao (48-3) over Ricky Hatton (45-1). Why?
Well, for one thing, Pacquiao seems to have moved up in weight comfortably and perhaps even naturally. Secondly, and more importantly, trainer Freddie Roach has managed to make a more complete fighter out of him.. He now blends his in-and-out whirlwind style with an assortment of other effective stuff including jabs and great hooks. His defense and foot-movement have also improved.
The Hitman’s skills also have improved under trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. as he now uses a jab and (as demonstrated against Paulie Malignaggi) and more patience, but the guy he will be fighting on May 2 may be more than he can handle. Here is how I see it playing out.
Is see Hatton controlling the early action by taking Pacquiao to the ropes where he manhandles him, using his patented body work and then tying him up to prevent payback. As he clinches, he continues throwing, sometimes even to the back of Manny’s head. He also does some good work in the middle of the ring as he stays cool using a decent jab to keep Pac Man at bay. However, sooner or later, Hatton will resort to what he does best and that is to brawl, but this will prove to be a fatal mistake. By resorting to the rough stuff in close, he will score points early but will use up valuable energy. An observant Manny (and Roach) will be ready to capitalize when the right time comes. This will occur by the mid to late rounds as a tenacious Pacquiao quickly steps up the pace with in-an-out stuff and heavy-handed straight lefts and right hooks for which a tired Hatton will have little answer.
Around the ninth or tenth stanza, Pacquiao will begin using one pot shot after another (ala Floyd Mayweather Jr.) with Hatton no longer able to tie him up. The straight lefts will be coming in with malice aforethought and with “ending” written all over them. Pacquaio also will employ a lethal hook to break up Ricky’s somewhat brittle skin as he did against Diaz. Hatton, however, is no Diaz.
By the same token, this is not the Pacquaio who lost to Érik “El Terrible”Morales and manifestly is not the skinny flyweight who got iced by Medgoen “3-K Battery” Singsura in 1999. Oh no, this guy is a totally different fighter with a full arsenal of weapons. And those weapons will be too much for a valiant Hatton. Mayweather will throw in the towel late (maybe in the 11th) to save Ricky from himself because “quit” is not in the Manchester warrior’s DNA.