Hatton-Pacquiao

Tomorrow night’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton is one of the most eagerly awaited of the year. Pacquiao, the most popular man in the Philippines, is deservedly the favorite, but I think Hatton has a good shot. I asked my son to preview the match for our readers:

The fight between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao which will take place Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is expected to be a blockbuster that should be the most watched fight of 2009. Manny Pacquiao, considered by most to be the top pound for pound fighter in the world since Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, is coming off a big win against Oscar De la Hoya, while Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton comes in having most recently defeated welterweight contender Paulie Malignaggi. At 45-1, Hatton poses a serious threat to the smaller Pacquiao. Hatton’s only loss came against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, and many think he is in the best shape of his life, having brought in the enigmatic yet effective Floyd Mayweather, Sr. as his trainer.

While Pacquiao will surely be the faster fighter on Saturday night, Hatton has a real chance if he can get to the body early and slow down the smaller Pacquiao. Just about everyone is picking Pacquiao to win, but the consensus is that this should be a close fight that could go either way. While it’s hard to pick against Pac-man, I will say that there have been a number of surprising outcomes lately and I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see Ricky Hatton emerge victorious. That said, I’m going with the establishment and picking Manny Pacquiao to win by late stoppage or decision. The first 4 rounds will be key, and if Pacquiao can avoid taking any serious damage early, he’ll be very tough to stop late.

The current betting odds favor Pacquiao by around 2-1, which is understandable, given his recent performances. Against Oscar DeLaHoya, Pacquiao looked like one of the all-time greats. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fighter look better. Yet we are going through an odd period in which fighters look unbeatable in one match, and like someone else the next time out.

And it seems odd that so many fans seem ready to write Hatton off. After all, he is 45-1, the only loss of his career coming when he went up seven pounds to fight Floyd Mayweather. Hatton has been in Las Vegas for a while, and the English press has been following his training. The notoriously fun-loving Hatton claims to be in the best shape of his career. That’s hard to judge, but if Pacquiao suffers the kind of letdown that we’ve recently seen from Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Margarito and others following dominating performances, he could be in trouble.

I can’t disagree with those who make Pacquiao a strong favorite, but I hope Hatton wins, and I think he has a pretty good shot. The fight program starts at 9 p.m. eastern time on HBO. This HBO video, plugging their pre-fight series, is a pretty good introduction to the fight:

POST MORTEM: Pacquiao solidified his status as boxing’s best with a second-round knockout. Hatton probably made a mistake by leading with his chin from the opening bell, but Pacquiao’s speed and power make him unbeatable, for now, by anyone anywhere near his size. Tonight, he threw hooks with both hands from every imaginable angle. He knocked Hatton out with a left hook that started below his waist and wound up at Hatton’s chin. I don’t think Hatton ever saw it coming. Pacquiao-Mayweather? It’s hard to imagine Floyd wants any part of Pacquiao after tonight.

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