Young Victor Boxing



Pacquiao knocks out Hatton in second round

Brian Doogan

Manny Pacquiao underlined his status as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer with a stunningly destructive second round knockout of Britain’s Ricky Hatton this morning at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The 30-year-old Filipino, a rare amalgam of brutal power and virtuoso artistry, dominated his bigger opponent with speedier, more precise, explosive punches which reduced the 30-year-old from Manchester to a stumbling, impotent, overwhelmed version of the proud fighter who had marched to the ring with a record of 46 wins, 32 by stoppage, against just one previous defeat. Hatton was twice knocked down in the opening round before Pacquiao put together a savage sequence of punches which further diminished the Mancunian before a bombshell left to the jaw sent him crashing onto his back unconscious. Wisely, American referee Kenny Bayless chose not to complete the count before he waved it over at 2:59 of round two, with Hatton in a frighteningly endangered state. Thankfully, he managed to climb off the floor several minutes later but the wait was an anxious one for his father, Ray, and mother, Carol, who were seated at ringside alongside his distraught fiancé, Jennifer. The nightmare they may have feared in more private moments had come to pass, ending their son’s dream of beating the best boxer in the world and also his four-year reign as the world’s best light welterweight, a position he has held since his stoppage of Australian Kostya Tszyu at the MEN Arena in June 2005. An intemperate lifestyle had reduced his effectiveness as a fighter in the years since and the strong belief that his 11th round stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi here in November would prove to be illusory was validated. Malignaggi, a hugely appealing personality behind his bombastic veneer, is no Pacquiao but on current evidence he is boxing’s nonpareil. Perhaps only a further jump in weight into a welterweight collision with Floyd Mayweather Jr, who announced a July comeback fight against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez yesterday morning, could threaten this position. It is incredible to consider that Pacquiao began his career in 1995 as a light flyweight, weighing 7st 8lb. Weighing 9st 12 lb at Friday’s official weigh-in and several pounds heavier when he stepped in the ring, he was a formidable specimen and too much for Hatton by far. Not long into the first round Hatton walked onto a right hand which stunned him and moments later he walked onto another from which he staggered discernibly. The timing of Pacquiao’s punches was assassin-like and he kept tagging Hatton with his southpaw right hook. A right-left-right combination hurt Hatton and a follow-up right to the jaw, just as Hatton missed with a wild left, floored him for the first time. His expression was that of a man caught in a storm from which he could see no escape. He beat the referee’s count but was in serious trouble and Pacquiao’s relentless attack, culminating in an overhand left, put Hatton down again. He got up and, fortunately, there was no time left for Pacquiao to pursue him as the bell intervened. But the minute’s rest was merely a brief stay of execution. Hatton tried to rough up Pacquaio at the start of the second round but he was hurt by two more quick lefts to the jaw before he walked onto another right hand. Momentarily, he stalled Pacquiao’s momentum with a right uppercut to the Filipino’s chin but Pacquaio held the shot well and fired back with a right-left to the chin. The final overhand left he threw was sinister in the extreme, sending Hatton down and into a parallel world. When he recovered sufficiently for paramedics to be able to sit him on his stool in the centre of the ring he remained unable to communicate coherently. Back in his dressing room before being taken to the nearby Valley Hospital he managed to say, “It was a hard loss but I’m okay. I really didn’t see the final punch coming but it was a great shot. I know I’ll be okay.”

Pacquiao compared this victory to his previous win in December, a stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya who retired on his stool at the end of eight one-sided rounds. “This was as big for me as the De La Hoya fight,” he said. “I’m surprised this was so easy but I worked hard in training camp. He was open for the right hook. I knew he’d be looking for my left, so we worked on landing the right for

 three months in training camp. It’s nothing personal. I was doing my job.”

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, had predicted a third round stoppage and he insisted afterwards

 that the result was no surprise. “Hatton pumps his hands before he throws a punch, he’s a sucker

 for the right hook and we worked on that the entire training camp,” Roach said. “Ricky cocks

back before he throws a punch and he fights the same way over and over. I studied tape for two months and I knew him as well as I knew my own fighters. This was no surprise.”

It may prove to be a career-ending fight for the Hitman from Manchester. No boxer has any desire to go out on a conclusive loss, especially one as successful as Hatton has been. But a corrosive combination of the wars he has fought and bad living have caught up with him and he will be a shadow of his former self should he continue his career. He lost to a gem of a fighter, one who has lost three times but the marked improvement he has made under Roach’s tutelage makes Pacquiao stand out as a fighter apart. There is no shame for Hatton this morning, only a sore head. The pain will pass but the performance of a champion who subsequently went off to the Mandalay Bay to play with his band will remain etched in the memory.

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