See our live blog of the fight here.
If you’ve got access to cable television on Saturday night, you should fork over the ridiculous amount of cash it’s gonna take to watch Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao hit each other for money. Why on Earth would you do such a thing? Simple: this fight should be a classic.
Now, I hate throwing down a gauntlet for two guys before they step on the big stage, but their careers to this point almost assure us we’ll get something great on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Every time he steps in the ring you’re almost assured of seeing something special. Pacquiao is just that, special. He’s that once in a generation talent that has everything you could possibly want from a fighter you pay money to see. He’s got staggering power (I think he has the most power pound-for-pound in the world), mind-boggling hand speed, has the skills to box with anyone AND he’ll stand and trade with anyone. He’s also got the killer instinct and desire to finish fights that we all wished Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have shown more often.
When you throw in the fact that Pacquiao is the biggest star in the Philippines and feels that he’s always fighting for his country, you have a perfect story already. Throw in the incredible hardships he’s endured, his “aww shucks” attitude and the endearing father/son relationship he’s developed with his trainer, Freddie Roach, and it’s nearly impossible to root against him.
On the other side of this one you’ve got Manchester, England’s own Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs). Hatton’s only loss came at the hands of Mayweather, so he went out and hired Pretty Boy Floyd’s father, Floyd Mayweather Sr. to train him. Hatton is the classic ugly fighter. He’ll come in hard and press his opponent for an entire bout, using whatever he can to gain the upper hand, whether it’s elbows or fists, you’ll feel he’s there. His go-to punch is a left-hook to the body, and he’s floored more than one opponent with shocking liver-shots. When a fighter has that weapon in his arsenal he can unleash it at any time and beat anyone.
Hatton is currently The Ring magazine and the IBO’s Light Welterweight champion and both of those titles will be on the line Saturday. Pacquiao will enter the MGM Grand Las Vegas looking for his 10th straight win and it will be his fourth different weight class in his last four fights.
The real story about this fight will be the fans.
Hatton always brings a mob from England to Vegas with him and they’re some of the most rabid fans in sports. Their songs and chanting during the fight are sure to reverberate throughout the arena. As for Pacquaio, as mentioned above, he brings an entire nation with him whenever he fights.
Superfights used to be international affairs – think The Rumble in the Jungle, the Thrilla in Manila, and The Sunshine Showdown. America sent our superstars out to the world for the biggest fights in history, consider this fight the globe returning the favor.
What should we expect on Saturday night in Las Vegas?
Right now I just don’t see anyone beating Pacquiao. He’s the best in the world for a reason. He’s got the fastest hands, best instincts and hardest shots in the business. That’s a lethal combination. He’s also got the best trainer on the planet in Freddie Roach, who he trusts with his life. I see Pacquiao overwhelming Hatton later in the fight, from the ninth round on and just being too much for The Hitman to handle.
That’s not to say Hatton doesn’t have a shot. Ricky likes to fight in close, so Pacquiao won’t be able to dance too much, which will be fine with Pac-Man. He doesn’t like to float around the way Mayweather did. He’ll stand toe-to-toe and trade with Hatton, and one perfect liver shot could end things (Pacquiao was KO’d by a body punch in 1999). This should be a classic slugfest and if Hatton really can sap some of Pacquiao’s power by viciously attacking the body with regularity this fight could get really interesting down the stretch.
In another odd twist, both fighters are best with their left hands, which you rarely see in boxing these days. It should make things even more rough because it will set both guys up to get pounded by each other’s dominant hand, because Hatton fights in an orthodox stance*, while Pacquiao is a southpaw. Expect heads to clash when both guys dive in to unload on each other.
I love the way both of them fight. They’re both great guys, with excellent trainers and amazing track records. They’ll go toe-to-toe and this should become a bloody mess of a contest.
It should be the fight of the year, and you should do whatever you can to get a good seat.