LAS VEGAS-Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao can punch. Boy can he punch.
Before a packed house of more than 17,000 people at the MGM Grand, a boisterous crowd filled with Brits and Filipinos saw Pacquiao prove on the point of Ricky Hatton’s chin that he packs a big time punch on Saturday.
Pacquiao gathered his fifth weight title by knocking down Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) three times and ultimately knocking the English fighter out cold and grabbing the Ring Magazine and IBO junior welterweight titles.
The pound for pound champion picked up a world title in a fifth weight division. The only division he skipped is the featherweight division where he fought Juan Manuel Marquez to a draw. He later beat Marquez in the junior lightweight division.
“This win was as big as my last fight against Oscar De La Hoya,” said Pacquiao.
Once more Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) proved his claim as the best fighter pound for pound in the world regardless of the re-emergence of Floyd Mayweather.
Before the fight, many doubted the Filipino southpaw had the ability to carry his power to the junior welterweight division, though he was coming off a technical knockout win over De La Hoya last December.
Hatton and his trainer Floyd Mayweather were convinced Pacquiao was too small.
“I really thought Ricky could get him,” said Mayweather who had argued and berated Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach after the fight was made. “That’s all I can say.”
In the first round Hatton moved in aggressively against Pacquiao and immediately worked the inside. Both traded punches with the Manchester native landing frequently in the first 40 seconds until Pacquiao countered with a left hand. Then, suddenly, as Hatton lunged in, a Pacquiao right hook cut a path to the chin that dropped him to his knees. On shaky legs Hatton beat the count. With less than 30 seconds left in the round a sizzling left hand dropped Hatton again near his own corner. Luckily there were only a few ticks left on the clock and the round ended.
A seemingly more intense Hatton jumped out of his corner for the second round and immediately attacked Pacquiao as if the first round never happened. A right uppercut landed but Pacquiao countered with some combinations. Both traded back and forth but when the Filipino lefty brushed Hatton’s face with a right jab, he then loaded up an overhand left hand on the British fighter’s chin. Down he went with a thud and this time he did not get up. Referee Kenny Bayless did not bother to count and the fight was stopped at 2:59 of round two.
“We worked hard on the right hook,” said Pacquiao after the win. “We knew he was looking for the left hand.”
Roach, who’s trained Pacquiao for eight years, had predicted that his fighter would win in less than three rounds. He finally revealed his reason.
“Every time he throws a punch he cocks it,” said Roach. “We were ready for him.”
Though Pacquiao was confident of his own plan, even he was surprised that it ended quickly.
“I was surprised it came so easy, but we worked on it very hard,” said Pacquiao. “This wasn’t personal, it was business.”
Hatton was taken to the hospital after the fight.
“It was a hard shot but I’m ok,” Hatton said. “I really didn’t see the punch coming. It was a great shot. I know I’ll be ok.”
Among those who witnessed the fight were WBA junior lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares and former junior lightweight world champion Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez. Both felt Pacquiao would win but not in less than two rounds.
“I was very surprised,” said Linares, who sparred with Pacquiao a month ago and is familiar with the pound for pound champion’s power. “It was shocking what he did to a very good fighter like Ricky Hatton.”
Hernandez also picked Pacquiao to win, but felt the fight would end in the latter rounds.
“He’s just an incredible fighter,” said Hernandez of Pacquiao. “He’s the best.”
Mexico’s Humberto Soto caught Canada’s slick Daniel Gaudet with a right uppercut under the chin that proved the beginning of the end. He survived the count but was met with a jab and right cross that sent him reeling along the ropes and to the canvas. Referee Jay Nady stopped the fight at 2:25 of the ninth round. Soto keeps his WBC junior lightweight title. Two judges had Soto ahead comfortably, but judge Paul Smith had Gaudet ahead 76-75 despite a first round knockdown.
In a middleweight contest Daniel Jacobs (16-0, 14 KOs) of Brooklyn found Chicago’s Michael Walker (20-2, 12 KOs) no easy touch as they took it to the eight round-limit. Jacobs was the taller and seemingly bigger fighter but could not muster enough power to discourage Walker, who had his moments. The judges scored it 80-72 twice and 79-73 for Jacobs but every round was hard fought.
Russia’s Matt Korobov (5-0, 5 KOs) faced a veteran of 34 professional fights in Anthony Bartenelli (20-13-2, 13 KOs) of Phoenix. It didn’t matter as he quickly showed his boxing superiority and stopped him at 2:15 of the second round of a middleweight fight. A five-punch barrage knocked down the Arizonan. He recovered but was met with another burst of punches that forced referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight.
Korobov’s next fight will be in June on the Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey fight card in New York City.
A smattering of boos accompanied the decision win by Cuba’s Erislandy Lara (5-0, 3 KOs), not because he didn’t deserve the win over Louisiana’s Chris Gray (11-8), but the manner that he won a ho-hum junior middleweight fight. It wasn’t entirely his fault, Gray never allowed opportunities to engage and Lara was intent on landing that left hand all four rounds. It never connected. The judges scored it 40-36 for Lara.
Matthew Hatton (36-4-1, 13 KOs), the younger brother of Ricky Hatton, brawled and out-muscled former junior lightweight Ernesto Zepeda (39-12-4, 34 KOs) who now fights at welterweight. After eight rounds the judges ruled it 78-74 twice and 79-73 for Hatton. No knockdowns were scored.
Colorado’s Mike Alvarado, as his promoter Top Rank is priming for a showdown with a Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz, won a widespread unanimous decision against Oakland’s fleet-footed Juaquin Gallardo in an eight round junior welterweight fight. Alvarado knocked down Gallardo in the second round with his powerful right hand but that was it. Most of the rounds saw Alvarado unable to catch up to the always-moving California fighter. The judges scored it 80-71 twice and 79-72 for Alvarado.
California’s Abner Mares (18-0, 11 KOs) returned to the ring after almost a year off due to an injury. The ring rust slowed his reflexes but he dominated Colombia’s Jonathan Perez (14-6, 11 KOs) in a bantamweight contest scheduled for eight rounds. The Colombian fighter gave in at the end of the sixth round.
“I don’t know if you heard, I had a serious eye surgery but the doctors gave me the green light thanks to God,” said Mares, who last fought in June 2008 at Morongo Casino. “My hand speed wasn’t there but we wanted to get the rounds in and he gave me that.”
Mares is ranked number five in the world according to computer rankings.
Bernabe Concepcion (29-1-1, 17 KOs) fought a nip and tuck conservative battle against Colombia’s heavy-handed Yogli Herrera (21-9, 15 KOs) in a featherweight bout. No knockdowns were scored in the six round affair, but it was the Filipino fighter who pressed the fight. The scores were 60-54 for Concepcion.
Another Manchester, England fighter, Joe Murray (2-0) dominated California’s Missael Nunez (4-8-2) with a four round featherweight unanimous decision 39-35 according to all three judges.
Omar Chavez (15-0-1, 11 KOs), the second oldest son of Mexico’s great Julio Cesar Chavez, used his father’s familiar weapon of destruction with a left hook to the body that ended Tyler Ziolowski’s (11-7, 6 KOs) night in a junior lightweight bout.
A replay of the Pacquiao-Hatton fight will be shown Saturday May 9, at 6:30 p.m. PT. on HBO.