Bring on Floyd Mayweather. After Manny Pacquiao’s destructive display against Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, it is not a foregone conclusion that the returning Mayweather will reclaim his pound for pound title when he steps into the ring in July.
Pacquiao sent Hatton down twice in the first, shocking the Brit with his blinding hands. He finished him off at the end of the second round (2:59), with an overhand left hand that sent Hatton to the mat completetly out of it. The TKO win was exhilarating, but also scary, as Hatton, unconscious as he sailed to the canvas, found himself in the toughest section of Queer Street. Hatton grinned after a few minutes, which made everyone in the joint happy. We wonder if the Hitman, now 0-for-2 in his last two signature bouts, both via KO, will hang up the gloves. HBO PPV viewers were informed that Hatton didn't feel well after, and thus would not be interviewed by Larry Merchant. All fight fans have fingers tightly crossed that the loveable hitter comes home to Manchester with no severe damage, beyond his pride.
Pacquiao (from the Phillipines; weighed 138 on Friday, 148 on Saturday; age 30) is now 49-5-2, while Hatton (from England; weighed 140 on Friday, 152 on Saturday; age 30) is 45-2. Hatton entered with the IBO and Ring junior welterweight crown. Hatton was all business entering the ring; no Ricky Fatton fatsuits on this night. The classy Brit showed his humility when he deferred to Manny, as the top pound for pounder in the game, and let Manny enter the ring last, though as the lone beltholder in the equation, he could’ve come in last. Pacquiao had the edge in the notable-entourage-member department; WWE wrestler Batista accompanied Manny into the ring.
Michael Pernick, CJ Ross and Glen Trowbridge were charged with judging, if it came to that, and Kenny Bayless was the ref.
In the first, Ricky went low with a right immediately. He got in Pacman's face, and stayed there. Manny banged with the right nicely. The Brit mauled and brawled, and clinched copiously. A gorgeous right hook sent Hatton down and he was up with 45 seconds left. He was down again at the end of the first, off a left that hit off Hatton’s glove into his face. Hatton got up at eight and the bell clanged. Wow is the best, if pedestrian, word to use at that opening round display.
In the second, Hatton landed a left. Manny’s right worked still, though; apparently he and Roach had figured out that a right hook would be just the ticket to pester Hatton. It was a left hand from hell that dropped Hatton hard at the end of the round, and Hatton was done, stick a fork in him. Pacman fans are well aware of the fact that the cautious Moneyman took ten rounds to finish off Hatton, while Manny needed just two. Did Floyd soften Ricky up for Manny? Money-maniacs will say so. Let me be the first to suggest that Team Mayweather pay Juan Manuel Marquez some step aside money, and book Pacquaio/Mayweather in September. There is no need to jeapordize what will be the most anticipated non-heavyweight scrap since what, Hagler-Leonard?
The main subplot entering the bout was the trainer vs. trainer angle, with top P4P honors being up for grabs in the minds of many. Freddie Roach, who has overseen the transformation of Manny from a one handed swarmer into a two fisted technician over an eight-year span, put some distance between he and Floyd Mayweather Sr with Pacquiao’s exclamatory victory.
Pacquiao, who picked up a crown in his fifth weight division, had an extra measure of excitement and probably nervousness coming into the MGM ring; his mother Dionisia traveled to the States for the first time to see her son Manny do his thing. Wonder if mom had known the depth of her son's talent, and his daunting capacity to render another man into a near-comatose state. Heady stuff...
SPEEDBAG Anthem watch. Who would boo?
The Filipino version came first, then Tom Jones doing the English ditty, God Save the Queen, and finally the US rendition, done by someone named Jasmine Villegas—maybe the kids know her. Only the visiting Brits, for the record, chose to sully the moment with hooting.
Stay tuned for David Avila's ringside report...