Boxing


Pacquiao vs Hatton This Saturday

By Doveed Linder: This Saturday, pound-for-pound king Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) will face Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) for Hatton’s IBO junior welterweight title at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas in what is the most anticipated bout of the year. They’re calling this fight “East Meets West” as Manny Pacquiao represents his native land of the Philippines and Ricky Hatton comes from Manchester, England. Pacquiao was last seen in December of last year when he scored an 8th round TKO over Oscar De La Hoya. Hatton’s most recent fight was last November when he faced Paul Malignaggi and won via 11th round TKO.

THEIR HISTORY

Pacquiao made a gigantic splash in the boxing world in November of 2003 when he scored an 11th round TKO over Marco Antonio Barerra, who was considered one of the best fighters in the world at the time. He followed that up with a draw against Juan Manuel Marquez in an exciting fight where he dropped Marquez three times in the 1st round. Pacquiao’s next fight of significance was a decision loss to Erik Morales in March of 2005, which was the last time he lost a fight. He bounced back from the loss to Morales with a 6th round TKO over Hector Velazquez, then faced Morales in a rematch and won via TKO in the 10th round.

After the victory over Erik Morales, Pacquiao won a decision over Oscar Larios, then faced Morales in a rubber match and knocked him out in the 3rd round. Over the next couple of years, Pacquiao fought and knocked out Jorge Solis in the 8th round and faced Marco Antonio Barerra and Juan Manuel Marquez in rematches, winning decisions on both occasions. In June of 2008, he scored a 9th round TKO over David Diaz and followed that up with the win over Oscar De La Hoya. He has won world titles in five different weight classes and because of the dominance he’s shown over the years and particularly because of his wins over Marco Antonio Barerra, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Oscar De La Hoya, Pacquiao is considered the best fighter in the world.

When Ricky Hatton came onto the scene, he was considered one of the hottest prospects in boxing. He had an exciting, aggressive style, he was a devastating body puncher, and he was undefeated. He scored victories over some good fighters in Vince Phillips, Ben Tackie, and Michael Stewart. And in June of 2005, he faced Kostya Tszyu for the IBF junior welterweight title. At the time, Tszyu was one of the best fighters in the world and Hatton was considered an underdog. But with his rough and tumble style, Hatton dominated the action and forced Tszyu to quit after 11 rounds.

Following the fight with Tszyu, Hatton scored a 9th round knockout over Carlos Maussa and won a decision over Luis Collazo. He then won a decision over Juan Urango and followed that up with a 4th round knockout over Jose Luis Castillo. Hatton’s next test came against then pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, Jr., where he was TKO’d in the 10th round and suffered the first loss of his professional career. He bounced back from the Mayweather fight with a decision over Juan Lazcano and then most recently the win over Paul Malignaggi.

STRENGTHS

Pacquiao has a lot going for him in the way of an arsenal. He has tremendous speed and he’s an effective puncher with both hands. He’s very experienced, he’s always in great shape, and he’s busy for every minute of every round. He’s a gifted athlete, he has great reflexes, and he’s a good finisher. And most importantly, he’s a complete fighter with adaptable skills and has the ability to cope with just about any style.

Hatton’s attributes are that of a classic tough guy. He’s strong, he’s a great body puncher, and he brings the pressure. But with his raw skills, Hatton has reached a world class level, so he has more going for him than just being rugged. His awkward inside game is very difficult to deal with and with all of the grappling and mauling that he does, he can take a skilled fighter out of his game. He, too, has experience in fights of this magnitude and he has a tremendous work ethic in the gym.

WEAKNESSES

Earlier in Pacquiao’s career, particularly in his first fights with Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales, he came across as a one-dimensional fighter who found his success by being aggressive and landing his devastating left hand. But since that time, he has developed some counterpunching skills and has become more of a well-rounded fighter. Against David Diaz, he was just a little wild and seemed a little off balance after he threw his combinations. But most recently against Oscar De La Hoya, he showed a lot more discipline and control. This is Pacquiao’s first fight at junior welterweight, so there are questions as to how he will handle a bigger man’s strength and power.

Hatton is a bit reckless with his aggressive approach and he leaves a lot of openings when he goes on the attack. His defense and counterpunching skills leave something to be desired and his approach to fighting has a sense of obviousness. Hatton is known to put on a great deal of weight in between fights and this lifestyle is bound to take its toll. He has a tendency to get tired and sloppy down the stretch, which leaves him available to get hit wide open, as was demonstrated against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., as well as in his fight with Luis Collazo.

KEYS TO VICTORY

Basic boxing could win this fight for Pacquiao. To walk away with a victory, he needs to use his ring smarts and fight at his effective punching range by keeping Hatton at the end of his one-two-hook and using a little movement. He needs to use his speed and take advantage of the openings Hatton presents. And he needs to stay out of those inside exchanges, avoid getting hit to the body, and land some body shots of his own.

For Hatton to win this fight, he must take the approach that has worked for him in the past. He needs to use his strength, land his body shots, impose his physicality, make it ugly, and wear him out. It would be a mistake to fight a technical fight, because Pacquiao’s skills are far superior. Hatton also needs to remember to keep his hands up and keep moving his head, because he has been much too hittable in the past.

THE TRAINERS

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is one of the best trainers in the world today. He’s a great teacher with a lot of experience in and out of the ring. He also remains a student of the game and seems willing to continue learning new things. He has a laid back personality and he gives his fighters a great deal of freedom, while maintaining his leadership and authority. Roach and Pacquiao have been together for some time and they have a track record for success. Their communication is solid and they have a strong sense of trust. In Pacquiao’s last fight, Roach predicted exactly how the action would unfold and the fight did, in fact, play out the way he said it would. This suggests that he knows his fighter very well and studies the opposition very closely. And now with Michael Moorer on board helping with the preparations, he has brought an extra set of eyes which makes the team even better than it was before.

Hatton’s trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr. has been doing a great deal of ridiculing and provoking of Team Pacquiao throughout the promotion of this fight with his childish taunts and that sometimes makes it hard to take him seriously. But in all likelihood, these antics are just part of his act and behind the scenes he’s probably all business and has his fighter’s best interest in mind. Without a doubt, he’s a boxing genius and he knows the game inside and out. But it seems that Mayweather, Sr. believes that every fighter should approach the game as a pure boxer and a trainer must be able to recognize a fighter’s natural instincts and train him accordingly, opposed to molding him into what his vision of what a perfect fighter should be. That’s the difference between being a great trainer and one who is common.

THE OUTCOME

Those who are picking Pacquiao to win believe that his speed and skills are enough to beat Hatton. Those who are picking Hatton believe that he is the naturally bigger man and that his strength and enthusiasm will prevail. In most cases, speed and skill overcome size and strength, so the advantages favor Pacquiao. Plus, Pacquiao is now 30 years old, his body has matured, and he looked comfortable at 147 pounds. So it’s likely that he is every bit a junior welterweight and that Hatton’s size won’t be an issue.

Pacquiao has a wide range of abilities, where Hatton generally has one way of getting the job done. If Hatton tries to employ the new tricks that Floyd Mayweather, Sr. has taught him, this would be to his disadvantage as he has not spent enough time with Mayweather for these new skills to be instilled in him and he may not have the tools to do it in the first place. And if Hatton is faced with some hectic moments, which he most certainly will be, he may resort back to his brawling tactics while still trying to use the boxing skills that he has recently learned and find himself caught in between styles.

It’s possible that Hatton will present a tough challenge early on, as he will be fresh and confident. But after 3 or 4 rounds, it’s likely that Pacquiao will have figured him out and will begin taking advantage of the openings Hatton presents. In tough fights, Hatton generally tires down the stretch, which makes him even more hittable. If Luis Collazo (who is a southpaw like Pacquiao) can hurt Hatton and get him in trouble, then Paquiao certainly can and it will likely happen at any time from the 8th round on. And as good of a finisher as Pacquiao is, when he smells blood he’ll go for the kill and will likely score a TKO.

CONCLUSION

This fight has been built up as a battle for pound-for-pound supremacy, when in actuality it’s the pound-for-pound king facing a very tough challenger. While Hatton has done well for himself in this game, his resume doesn’t compare to what Pacquiao has accomplished and if he wins it would come as a surprise. If Pacquiao wins, this will be another impressive victory on his resume and it would set the stage for a showdown with the winner of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs Juan Manuel Marquez. If Hatton wins, this would be his greatest accomplishment in the ring to date and he would have to be considered among the top 5 or 6 fighters in the world.

Pacquiao vs Hatton will be aired this Saturday on HBO Pay-Per-View at 9pm ET/6pm PT .

Article posted on 30.04.2009



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