Speed Kills: Pacquiao Destroys Hatton

In an absolutely stunning display of speed, skill and frightening power, Manny Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton tonight at 2:59 of the second round with a roundhouse left for the ages, announcing to all who doubted him that he is without question the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today.
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↵From the opening bell, despite the raucous atmosphere created by a large throng of British fans, Hatton never was remotely in the fight. Pacquiao landed straight left hands and punishing right hooks at will, knocking Hatton down twice in the first round, first with a perfectly timed right as Hatton lunged forward with a left jab. After a barrage of punishment, Pacquiao put Hatton down again with a straight left that sent Hatton staggering back to the ropes and down to the canvas. The British fighter might have been finished right then and there had the bell not rung soon after he stood up.
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↵Come the second, Hatton regained his wits and fought desperately, even managing to effectively trade with Pacquiao in a few furious exchanges in the center of the ring. But with the round almost in the books, Pacquiao feinted right and went left, winding up for a gigantic, looping shot that caught Hatton flush on the chin and seemed to render him immediately unconscious as he collapsed to the canvas. It was a devastating punch that left no doubt, even as Hatton was falling, that the fight was over. Referee Kenny Bayless took one look at the felled fighter sprawled before him and waved off the bout with only one second left in the round.
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↵Bedlam ensued, as the shocked crowd erupted in a cathartic roar and Pacquiao turned to his corner with his arms raised and a beatific smile of joy on his face. Later he would say that he was surprised the fight ended so quickly, and at that instant, his surprise was shared by the entire arena. For one of the few moments in the entire evening, the British fans' endless refrain of "There's Only One Ricky Hatton" was silenced, as the point had been made with brutal concision - right now, there's only one Manny Pacquiao, and everyone else in the sport is following his lead.
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↵With doctors huddled over the fallen Hatton and the ring crushed with the entourages of both fighters, Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, dramatically signaled to his nemesis, Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., and pumped his fists in triumph. Mayweather could only turn away in disgust. The war of words between Roach and Mayweather had been one of the compelling subplots in the lead-up to this fight, and there was no question tonight that the victorious trainer positively reveled in the spoils.
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↵It was an expected victory, as Vegas had made Pacquiao near to a 3-1 favorite prior to the fight. Those odds had closed in the past few days, however, as doubts began to fester as to how Pacquiao would fare against a fighter who was deemed to be legitimately bigger and stronger than him. Pacquiao, though, unofficially weighed 148 pounds tonight, and went into the ring only four pounds lighter than Hatton. The size differential appeared negligible and did not affect the fight in any way in Hatton's favor.
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↵The speed differential, however, affected it immensely. Pacquiao's advantage in hand-speed told the tale almost immediately, as did the fact that he has developed under Roach's tutelage into a boxer with great power and accuracy in both hands. Once known primarily for his lightning-fast straight left hand, tonight it was his right hook that rocked Hatton early, a punch that Roach said afterwards they had worked on specifically in training camp with Hatton in mind.
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↵"He pumps his hands before he throws a punch," Roach said of Hatton after the fight. "He's a sucker for the right hook, and that's what we worked on throughout our entire camp." ↵
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↵The work paid off with enormous dividends. With a packed house, and a gala crew of celebrities at ringside that included Jack Nicholson, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z and Denzel Washington, Pacquiao made a statement to the boxing world and indeed the world at large that in the absence of the recently retired Oscar De La Hoya, he is more than ready to accede to the throne as boxing's biggest and most compelling superstar. ↵
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↵His star is certain to grow in the coming months, too, as the furor undoubtedly will mount for Pacquiao to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr in a mega-fight later this year. This afternoon, it was announced at a press conference right here at the MGM Grand that Mayweather will end his brief retirement and return to the ring to fight Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18th at a catch-weight of 143 pounds. No doubt, by staging this announcement for today, Mayweather, the formerly recognized pound-for-pound king of boxing, was hoping to steal some of the thunder from the current pound-for-pound king, Pacquiao, on the day of his big fight with Hatton.
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↵But with a mind-blowing performance of skill and fury, Pacquiao stole that thunder right back, seized it as his personal property and then promptly visited it upon the helpless chin of Ricky Hatton.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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