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Sunday, April 12, 2009


Will technical skills be Manny Pacquiao's downfall in May? Ricky Hatton seems to think so. "I can fight toe to toe, I know I can body punch. What's impressing my new trainer now, I think I'm showing technical ability that I think he didn't think I had at first. But I think that's going to shock Manny more than the size and the power aspect," Hatton would tell reporters during a conference call, alluding to the fact that he's much more than a predictable tenacious brawler and with his new trainer in his corner, Manny Pacquiao will have a lot more problems to deal with than size and strength. But as the old saying goes, is it really possible to teach an old dog new tricks?

Prior to his fight with Paulie Malignaggi, Hatton teamed up with Floyd Mayweather Sr. after dropping long-time trainer Billy Graham. It was move that was long overdue, Hatton admitted, as he revealed that it just wasn't possible to continue his career with Graham. "Floyd has come in and given me a new lease of life," Hatton said. The move paid dividends immediately as Hatton dominated slick southpaw Paulie Malignaggi in a one-sided affair that was eventually stopped in the 11th round. During that fight, you could already see some signs of improvement under Mayweather's guidance as Hatton made better use of his jab to set up his power punches.

"Obviously me and Floyd worked together seven weeks for the last fight. So with this fight it will be two weeks more. We've been together nine weeks. And don't forget, for the first three weeks of the seven weeks in the last training camp, me and Floyd were learning and getting used to each other," stated Hatton as he discussed the differences between his training camps for the Malignaggi fight and his upcoming showdown with Pacquiao. "I think I proved in my last fight that I have a much better jab, a stronger punch and speed too," Hatton was quick to point out in assessing the change in his abilities with his new trainer.

The question is, will a total of 16 weeks with a brand new trainer be enough to compete with the 6+ years of work and improvement that Freddie Roach has had with Pacquiao? Historically, a fighter who switches trainers late in his career will generally resort to his old habits, tactics and style when the going gets tough. Even during the 5+ years that Mayweather Sr. was training the Golden Boy, many times during fights, you could still see De La Hoya resort to bad habits and tendencies that existed prior to joining forces with the world-class trainer. Likewise, in his fight with Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton also resorted to bad habits, like leaping in with his left hook and making himself susceptible to counter shots, that could be costly against the wrong opponent, like the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Personally, if I had to place a bet, I'd put my money on the 6+ years over the 16 weeks.

Hatton does make a very valid point however. Technical abilities will be the key to this fight. "Both of us don't go backwards and I think that is the key to the fight. Whoever ends up going backwards is going to lose," Hatton would reiterate during another press conference. It's comments like that which make it hard for me to believe that Hatton truly has changed his style enough to make a difference. While Floyd Mayweather Sr. may be giving Hatton some new tools to utilize, it's impossible for a tiger to change its stripes.


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