Manny Pacquiao’s two-round destruction of Ricky Hatton this past Saturday night changed a lot of things in boxing in a very short time. In just 5 minutes and 59 seconds Pacquiao finally proved himself to his remaining doubters by flooring one of boxing’s most beloved fighters and a guy (it was thought by many) who should have been able to out-power him.
From day one the fight was billed as Speed vs. Power. Pacquiao’s speed vs. Hatton’s power. And from day one I told everyone (and McD agreed) that people were discounting just how hard Manny Pacquiao hits. He was by far the more powerful fighter. In fact, I defy anyone to name a fighter who hits harder pound-for-pound in all of boxing. His power has shocked opponents in six different weight classes, and his hands seem to have gotten even heavier as he’s moved up. His final, devastating left hand, right to Hatton’s chin and his December demolition of Oscar De La Hoya showed that against bigger fighters and at higher weights, he’s just as effective.
What the win over Hatton proved is that Pacquiao is now boxing’s best. Bar none. Yes, I’m includng the recently un-retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. in that assessment. If they fought right now, Manny would win.
The thing about Mayweather is that he has always been considered the most talented fighter of his generation but he’s always left fight fans wanting something. Very rarely did we get the performances we knew he was capable of against opponents we wanted to see him fight. He has always been very cautious in the fights he has chosen and in the ring as well. He’s naturally a defensive fighter – maybe the best defensive fighter ever – but that approach led to a lot of decision wins when he probably could have dropped the hammer on some opponents. Before you mention in, yes I’m nitpicking here. The guy is 39-0 with 25 knockouts, but there are some flaws in his game. He appeared to finally put it all together in the last three rounds of his 10-round knockout of Ricky Hatton. But he only went to that level because Hatton pushed him there.
Pacquiao on the other hand has fought (and beaten) all the best fighters of his era in his weight range. He went 7-1-1 (with six knockouts) against Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, David Diaz and Oscar De La Hoya. And while he lost his first matchup against Morales, it was incredibly close and his draw against Marquez was only because one judge made (and later admitted to making) a scoring error.
Manny’s fighting style is also far more fan-friendly. He prefers to stand and trade, but can also box and counter-punch. Since starting out as a jab-jab-straight left fighter, he now has one of the most complete arsenals in boxing history. Thanks to trainer Freddie Roach’s tutelage, Pacquiao can throw every punch with power. His first knockdown on Saturday night came on a right hook, which has only gotten stronger over the past few years.
While Mayweather’s hand speed and defense have always been his calling cards, Pacquiao may be the only fighter in the world with faster hands. His head movement also makes him an extremely tough target to hit. And when he does catch a punch to the grill, he’s shown a phenomenal chin over the years.
If “Money May” and Pacquiao do eventually get together, Floyd won’t be able to run and hide as he did in his split decision victory over De La Hoya. It would be an interesting fight, but after what we saw Saturday night, it’s hard to believe that anyone would beat Pacquiao right now.