| 'The greatest fighter ever' |
By Abac Cordero Updated May 04, 2009 12:00 AM
LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao put on an explosive performance for the whole world to see when he brutally knocked out Ricky Hatton inside two rounds Saturday at the MGM Grand, and left no doubt about his status as the greatest boxer on the planet today.
Pacquiao, getting heavier and yet faster and stronger, was more than a ferocious animal in the ring. He knocked Hatton down twice in the opening round, and finally finished the Briton off with barely a second remaining in the second round of their one-sided brawl.
“He’s a monster,” said promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank at ringside. “He’s the greatest fighter ever.”
“I hope you enjoyed the show. It’s nothing personal because I’m only doing my job,” Pacquiao said at the post-fight press conference.
Asked to comment how it felt throwing that winning punch, he said, “The last punch was a left hook, and I believe he will not be able to get up after that. I didn’t think he would get up.”
The Filipino southpaw weighed in at 138 lbs Friday, and Hatton at exactly 140 lbs. But up on the ring, the Filipino icon looked more solid with his body as he checked in at 148 lbs against the heavier and slower Hatton at 152 lbs.
Pacquiao landed the first good punch of the bout dubbed “Battle of the East and West,” a right hook, and after taking a solid blow to the hip and a few hits during a clinch, he landed a right hook to the face that sent the erstwhile champion down at the center of the ring with 55 seconds left in the round.
In a way, the early knockdown came as a surprise to the 16,262 fans in attendance, even to Pacquiao supporters who hoped to see a knockout but probably not as quick as this one. Hatton got up and Pacquiao went for the kill, and down went the Briton again.
It was a left straight that sent Hatton reeling back and down in front of his own corner. Confused, he managed to get up at the count of eight, and just shortly after, the bell rang. At this point, everybody felt that the end of the fight was to come in the next round.
With nine seconds left in the second round, Pacquiao let loose a powerful left that was more of a hook based on his stance. It was a million-dollar punch, so strong it sounded like Hatton’s jaw cracked.
For the third and last time, the man who vowed to stop Pacquiao went down unconscious like a fallen log.
Referee Kenny Bayless was quick to attend to the fallen ex-champion, and though he did not bother to count, it took him a few seconds before signaling the end of the bout with only a second left in the round.
“I didn’t have to count,” Bayless said.
Hatton lay on the floor like he was sound asleep.
For a while it seemed that Pacquiao didn’t know what to do, whether to celebrate or come to the aid of his foe.
He seemed to have smiled, exposing his mouthpiece, then walked back to his corner.
In the flick of an eye everybody was there ready to celebrate with him.
Pacquiao knelt in prayer in a neutral corner, as Hatton’s handlers, together with ring physicians, attended to the knockout victim from Manchester. It took a couple of minutes before he was able to get up. With so many people in the ring, it was hard to see if the fighters ever shook hands.
A foe like no other
From his dressing room, the Manchester brawler, who was reduced to a pitiful sight, was brought to the Valley Hospital for precautions. He was accompanied by his family, including his parents, Ray and Carol, and his 5-foot-10 fiancee, Jennifer Dooley.
Dooley cried hard at ringside, and had to be consoled by a friend, as Hatton lay on the canvas.
Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions and Hatton’s promoter, went with them.
“We’re concerned with Ricky’s health. He looks okay but we just want to make sure. We’re just worried about him we wanted to make sure he’s okay,” said Hatton’s lawyer Garreth Williams, explaining his client’s absence at the post-fight press conference.
Arum said he came up to Hatton, and told the 30-year-old Mancunian not to get “discouraged.”
The ageless promoter added that there are still big fights to be fought, and there remains a chance for him to win a world title again.
Hatton’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., said sometimes, “when a boxer gets knocked out like that it’s hard to recover.”
The cocky trainer showed up at the post-fight press-con but neither confirmed nor denied that he was parting ways with Hatton. It was reported the other day they had personal differences allegedly because of the trainer being late for some training sessions.
Pacquiao, who was introduced by ring announcer Michael Buffer as the best fighter in the world, was welcomed as the “new” International Boxing Organization junior welterweight (140 lb) champion of the world, raising his world titles in different weight classes to six as most people say.
Pacquiao had won the WBC flyweight (112 lbs), the IBF super-bantamweight (122 lbs), WBC super-featherweight (130 lbs) and WBC lightweight (135 lbs) championships. Together with Ring Magazine’s featherweight (126 lbs) crown he joined De la Hoya as the only six-division champs.
Pacquiao fought in three weight classes last year, winning each battle against Juan Manuel Marquez at 130 lbs, David Diaz at 135 lbs, and De la Hoya at 147 lbs.
The Filipino ring icon said he feels very comfortable at 140 lbs, and Saturday’s win should serve as a stern warning to all pretenders.
Ring experts said the punch that knocked Hatton out could have knocked out any other fighter in the higher divisions, even the Mayweathers, the Mosleys, the Cottos or the Margaritos.
It was surely heard around the world, and Pacquiao’s popularity was even magnified a hundred times by it.
Roach said he knew “Hatton was a sucker” for the right hook.
“We knew how to prepare for that so it was easy for us. This was no surprise. Hatton pumps his hands before he throws a punch. He is a sucker for the right hook and this is what we worked on. He cocks back before he throws his punches. He fights the same way over and over. I studied tapes of all his fights for the last two months and I know him as well as I know my own fighter.”
True enough, based on slo-mo replays, Hatton pumped his gloves before getting caught by Pacquiao’s telling blow in the second round.
In the press conference, Pacquiao invited everyone to join his post-fight party at Mandalay Bay’s The Beach (poolside).
He said he was going to sing a few songs and even brought his own band from Manila. Up on the room on the 29th floor of the hotel, Pacquiao’s voice could be heard belting out his favorite songs.
The party was over by 2 a.m.
A moment of glory
Hatton walked into the arena ahead of Pacquiao. He was in his trademark black get-up, looking serious, chewing gum, and barely surrounded. In his dressing room, he was welcomed by Shane Mosley.
Pacquiao, moments after, arrived and made his way to his own dressing room. As usual, he smiled as he walked, and had his lovely wife, Jinkee, to his left, followed by a bunch of friends. It was the first time he showed up for a fight wearing a beard and moustache.
The MGM Grand was bursting with people, some of them dressed like they’re going to the Oscars, still a few hours before the fight.
People were still bidding for tickets, looking for spare ones, and those with a face value of $1,000 were being bought for as much as $6,000.
Three bouts before the main event, the arena was almost filled to the rafters, and British fans started warming up with chants of “Go! Ri-cky Hat-ton!” filling the air. Unconfirmed reports said 25,000 British fans flew all the way to Vegas for this fight.
According to Lee Samuels of Top Rank, some 18,000 fans packed the venue although there were 16,262 tickets sold, and he reported sales of 10,000 more on the closed circuit television in the different hotels around the official venue.
Footage of Friday’s official weigh-in pumped up the crowd as the seconds and closest supporters of both fighters almost filled the ring, waiting for their grand entrance.
Philippine flags, big and small, were all over the place, but still it was the British fans who lorded it over with their Wembley-like chants that were done as if they practiced them for a week.
As Martin Nievera did his own bouncy version of Lupang Hinirang, Pacquiao was shown over the giant screens getting a final rubdown from trainer Buboy Fernandez.
In his red-white-and-blue robe, Pacquiao looked like a Philippine flag was draped all over him, while Hatton came out in his colorful, beaded robe with lace on the edges.
Lights went out and thousands of cameras clicked away as footage of Hatton’s biggest wins were shown, as well as Pacquiao’s.
Being the champion, it was surprising for Hatton to climb the ring first. He walked slowly, stone-faced, his IBO belt hoisted behind him and the British flag waving.
Pacquiao was led up the ring by his new ally, former world wrestling heavyweight champion Batista, a half-Filipino. First thing he did was kneel before a neutral corner for a moment of prayer.
Then it was showtime as Michael Buffer hollered, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”
But there was none. Because Pacquiao made it a personal show.
According to computer statistics, Pacman landed 73 of 127 punches in just under six minutes, including 34 of 53 power punches in the second hand.
Hatton connected only 18 of 78.
Posted by Abac Cordero