The Reuters global sports blog
Pacquiao needs to watch Hatton’s power
The bookmakers and pundits are confidently predicting a win for pound-4-pound king Manny Pacquiao in Saturday’s Las Vegas showdown against Ricky Hatton but I’m not so sure its that easy to call.
I can see their argument though; the Filipino southpaw (48-3-2) is the best fighter on the planet. He has speed, he has power, he has a good chin and the heart of a lion and I’m yet to spot a weakness in his armoury.
He has walked through divisions, claiming world titles in four different weights and with Hatton’s IBO light-welterweight belt on the line, he could make it five in a fight being billed as “The Battle of East and West.”
He was lined-up by Oscar de la Hoya as a suitably big-named, beatable opponent but “Pac-Man” didn’t lose a minute of their one-sided December contest that ended when De La Hoya retired on his stool after eight rounds.
But my only concern for him on Saturday is that he has not had to take a punch at light-welterweight and Hatton’s power could be decisive.
When Pacquiao stopped David Diaz in the ninth round to claim his WBC Lightweight belt last June he admitted that despite dominating the American, he had been hurt by him. Worryingly for Manny’s fans, Hatton (45-1) is by far a bigger puncher than Diaz.
Rightly or wrongly the likeable Hatton has suffered criticism throughout his career for his one-dimensional rugged brawler approach. He was outclassed by Floyd Mayweather in his sole defeat but has never lost at light-welterweight where he has proved time and time again that he is too strong and durable for opponents.
His last outing against Paulie Malignaggi in November was the first time he could show off the skills worked on with new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. (the father of the only man to defeat him) and it looked impressive as he became the first man to stop the brash New Yorker with an 11th round knockout.
The key to that victory was a telling right hook at the end of the second round which rocked Malignaggi. He realised then that the Briton had too much power for him and the American tried to hold on for the remainder of the fight.
A similar situation could occur again on Saturday as I believe Hatton has too much power for Pacquiao but the Filipino does have the speed to dance away from trouble.
Pacquiao’s revered trainer Freddie Roach predicts a three round knockout: “Manny has speed, power, boxing ability – so I think he will overwhelm Ricky in this fight.”
I can only see him winning on points if Pacquiao does prove victorious but the only thing that I am confidently predicting is a classic.
PHOTO: Light welterweight boxer Ricky Hatton of England is interviewed near an image of Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 16, 2009. Hatton will face Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus