The most anticipated fight of the year is upon us. For the serious boxing fan, not to mention fans of both of the fighters involved in the main event, this must be like all of the major holidays rolled into one come early.
What I personally find interesting is, there’s no villain of this piece, which is the role that’s usually embraced by the former pound-for-pound king.
To paraphrase one of my favorite songs, “There ain't no good guy, there aint no bad guy, There’s only Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao and they just won’t agree” once they’ve come together in the squared circle in Las Vegas, and we’ll want it no other way.
Usually a bad guy is needed just as much as a good guy to sell an event of this nature, an event of this magnitude. After all, there’s got to be some varmint that is just itching to get what’s coming to him and we’d gladly shell out a fraction of our hard earned wages just for the pleasure of seeing him get what he deserves while the whole world watches.
Therein lies the beauty of viewing these things live. But the lack of a black hat-wearing scoundrel does nothing to diminish the appeal of this venue. The popularity of these two nice guys alone, coupled with the expectation of mind-blowing excitement is enough to sell this fight far more effectively than a truckload of hype can.
So when worlds collide in the “Battle of East and West,” there can’t help but be an explosion. This fight promises to make the Cinco De Mayo affair between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr back in 2007 look like peace talks. Come to think of it, that’s what Oscar and li’l Floyd’s meeting looked like anyhow.
That having been said, only one man can win. I know that’s a cliché, but there’s scarcely another way to put it. As well liked as these guys are, especially by their own Countrymen, Hatton from England, and Pacquiao from The Philippines, nobody wants to see this end in a draw. So without further ado, here goes my attempt at the breakdowns.
...has got to treat the ropes as though they are lined with a corrosive acid; He cannot allow is back to be on friendly terms with them. He also cannot allow Hatton to push him into any of the corners. The Hit man does his best work when his opponent has run out of road.
Sure, Floyd Mayweather Jr. got away with it verses Hatton; but FMJ is defensively sound enough to make it work...that’s just Floyd. Any other fighter who allows himself to languish in a corner against Ricky Hatton would rue the day—and the night too. That’s not Manny Pacquiao’s fight.
Pacquiao will have to keep the action in the middle of the ring and he’ll have to establish to Hatton right away that there’s a price to be paid for trying to get in close and the toll aint gonna be cheap!
He’ll have to use that right jab of his as a long-range weapon and the beauty of the jab is that it can be used as an offensive weapon as well as it can be used defensively.
Pacquiao has a good jab but at no time can he afford to be lazy with it, otherwise Hatton will slip to one side and bang him to the body. For the sake of polite company, I’ll resist the temptation to put it exactly the way that Freddie Roach uttered it near the end of the first episode of the 24/7 series; “I don’t want him to touch your body. Don’t let him touch you.”
He can take a page out of the notebook of the only man who has beaten the Hit Man in a pro fight, throw the jab quickly, make it stiff, and don’t wait around for return fire. Once FMJ decided to break out the jab, it made an effective tool for keeping Ricky at a comfortable range, and Pacman is quite capable of doing the same.
As Hatton will no doubt move in on Pacquiao and try to keep it on the inside where he can smother his man and get his own shots off, Pacquiao will have to give him angles.
Moving straight back won’t help. In his last two fights Manny showed the ability to pivot well and literally box circles around his opponents, so he should have that covered. However, you can be sure that Floyd Jr’s. daddy won't miss a trick.
...will have to enforce the point to Manny Pacquiao that “this weight class is my home and you’re not welcome to it.” In order to do that Manchester’s favorite son will have to take the fight to the Filipino sensation right away and make it as uncomfortable for him as possible.
Nobody does this better than Ricky. He can roughhouse well enough to give some of the top guys in MMA fits. Look for Hatton to be as aggressive as ever, tempered with caution and more attention to defense. If he’s learned anything from the elder Mayweather, expect to see more head movement as he advances.
If he’s learned anything from his loss to the younger Mayweather, expect to see a less bullish, more controlled Ricky Hatton. Increased speed is something that team Hatton worked on in the gym. He is not going to out-speed Pacquiao, it ain't gonna happen, but being a tad fast faster in this fight can’t hurt the Hit Man either.
Having been here before only to be denied, he may be all the more determined the second time around.
There are no common opponents between these two combatants, but they both did better than they were expected to do in their previous encounters. Pacquiao dismantled Oscar De La Hoya in shocking fashion.
So brutal and one-sided was the assault, that, Oscar, who owns one of the prettiest faces in boxing, and that’s even if you include female boxers, came away looking like Quasimodo's ugly brother, after an eighth-round stoppage.
Hatton took a little longer to get the job done in an affair that was also quite one-sided, an 11th-round stoppage of Paul Malignaggi, which should serve as a booster shot for a fighter coming back from a recent KO loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Ricky can take heart in the fact that it took the best to beat him and possibly nobody else will, not on his home turf of 140 pounds, where he remains undefeated anyway.
In Pacquiao’s case much has been made of the fact, after the fact, that the Golden boy was so much tarnish last December having come into that fight at a weight that he had outgrown ages before.
Be that as it may, it was plain to see that in the fight with Oscar and the one previous to that with David Diaz, two divisions south at 135 pounds, that Pac Man’s most important attributes are upwardly mobile, so look out Ricky Hatton!
Similarly, Hattons beating of Malignaggi also is not without it’s criticisms. Malignaggi’s punch couldn’t make a mold of jello quiver and before that, Hatton seemed to have jitters against journeyman Jaun Lazcano and before that he got knocked out by Mayweather Jr.
Ricky Hatton cannot afford to have FMJ flashbacks when the going gets tough, and it will. If he starts to unravel at any time, like his namesake, Pac Man will gobble him up.
Trainer vs. Trainer
The burden of proof is on the flamboyant Mayweather Sr. to show that he can out-train Freddie Roach”, the man he has made up Rhymes about. It’s nice to be a poet, but the ability to speak in rhymes won’t help his cause one bit once that first bell rings.
Besides, Ali did it 100 times better.
Throughout his career as a trainer, FMS has moved from fighter to fighter and had a measure of success with some of them, most notably Oscar De La Hoya whom he developed into a two-fisted fighter from a left hook specialist and guided to victory in two of his most important engagements, which were both won by KO against rugged fighters, Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Myorga.
But he has never set up his tent with any one fighter long enough to see what his true long-term potential might yield. Still, he’s good. He’s very good.
Meanwhile, headquartered across the ring will be team Pacquiao, skippered by Freddie Roach, whom Mayweather Sr. Laughingly calls “the joke coach Roach.” Have no illusions about this. When it comes to Freddie’s craft it’s no laughing matter.
During their time together, he has brought Pacquiao along from, Boxer-puncher to well-rounded fighter. The two of them have worked so well together that they can probably read each others thoughts by now.
The all-around edge goes to team Pacquiao coming into this fight, the strongest factor for either team in the equation being Pacquiao's dazzling speed; but the mystery of what the new team Hatton can produce remains to be seen and it’s not long 'til we find out.
As the ticks of the clock bring us closer to showdown time, (from that point of view) Ricky Hatton’s chances begin to look better. He’s a live wire of an underdog. Therein lies the intrigue, therein lies the suspense, therein, lies the allure of high-profile boxing.
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