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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton: Boxing for Glory and Country

It’s royalty versus subject, knight versus plebeian when the sound of the bell starts the Battle Royale between British superstar Ricky Hatton and Filipino People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2009, in Las Vegas, USA.

The British boxing knight touts an impressive ring record of 46 fights, losing only once when he challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the WBC welterweight crown in December 2007.

Despite the knockout loss, the British boxing idol has come back with two impressive victories over Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi to successfully retain the IBF junior welterweight title which he again puts on the line against Pacquiao.

On the other hand, Pacquiao is coming off from an impressive victory over boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya, whom he demolished and forced into submission in eight rounds of ring action that drew accolades from boxing pundits.

His mastery over the “Golden Boy” earned him the unofficial title of “pound for pound” king of boxing, succeeding Mayweather who had announced his retirement.

Pacquiao holds an equally impressive credential, with 48 wins, two draws, and three losses in 53 outings against the world’s toughest boxers in different weight divisions, ranging from flyweight to welterweight.

Against Hatton, the Filipino fighter has agreed to challenge him in his favorite weight division—the light-welterweight (140 lbs.) where the Briton is undefeated and the reigning champion under the IBF.

Unlike de la Hoya who was taller and bulkier than Pacquiao, the latter is fighting Hatton on even terms, with both fighters standing 5’6” and, of course, weighing 140 pounds at fight night. They have likewise recently turned 30, with Ricky older than Manny by an insignificant two months. Both are in the peak of their prime and are acknowledged to have similar aggressive fighting styles.

In terms of vital statistics—age, weight, reach, height, etc., the match up appears even. They are both fast power punchers, capable of stopping each other with a single blow, or a combination of punishing wallops to the head and body. Both fighters can unleash a knock out punch from either fist like a lightning rod.

The fight is likely to turn into a brawl, with both fighters mixing it up in the ring as early as the first round. Anyone who makes the first solid blow to the face is likely to become an early winner, but it is doubtful if Hatton could deliver the big wallop considering the newly developed defensive skills that Pacquiao unveiled during his match against de la Hoya.

If Hatton’s best was the one he showed against Mayweather in their recent bout, then he would be in trouble again. In that encounter, Hatton appeared steady and composed in the early rounds, peppering Mayweather with solid blows that almost sent his American rival to the canvass, until he lost steam in the later rounds, his face getting caught by a wild hook that sent him literally tumbling to the ground, face up, his eyes shut.

Pacman had faced better, tougher foes in Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez and survived, while Hatton had met lesser boxing mortals in Lazcano and Malignaggi after the loss against Mayweather.

Given Hatton’s strength, power, and speed, the fight is likely to go either way in the first six rounds—depending who gets hit first—but Pacquiao should get the better end of the exchanges after the sixth round, probably with a knock out in the seventh or eighth, en route to his final climb to his personal Mount Everest—Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the lure politics in his home country.


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