Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


What’s next for boxing’s amazing Pac-man?

Fighters Network

What will Manny Pacquiao do after starching Ricky Hatton with a single punch Saturday in Las Vegas? Whatever he decides to do, and whoever he chooses to fight, one thing is for certain: he will call the shots as boxing's new superstar. Photo / Chris

LAS VEGAS — One unfortunate aspect of Manny Pacquiao’s one-punch knockout of Ricky Hatton on Saturday was that it lasted less than six minutes. We witnessed greatness and we want more.

On top of that, we have to wait at least six months to see Pacquiao do his thing again. It’s not fair. But that’s how boxing is; its biggest stars fight only twice a year.

So, for the next few months we get to speculate who Pacquiao’s next victim ÔǪ er, opponent will be. And there are several intriguing possibilities.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, envisions this: His fighter faces the winner of the July 18 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez and then takes on Shane Mosley. All three are future Hall of Famers.

And make no mistake: After Pacquiao’s sensational performance Saturday, those fighters and others will be lining up for a shot at the Filipino icon because of the increasing amount of money he is able to generate.

There are weight issues, though. Pacquiao fights best at 140 pounds, the weight class at which he fought Saturday. “I feel very strong at 140 pounds; I want to stay there,” Pacquiao said shortly after his demolition of Hatton.

Mayweather and Mosley are natural welterweights (147) or even bigger. Marquez, who drew and lost in two fights with Pacquiao, could fight at 140 but is given little chance of beating Mayweather.

Mosley reportedly offered to fight Pacquiao at 147 immediately after the his KO of Hatton but Roach made it clear that Pacquiao is going to make the rules.

“You know what, we fight at 140,” Roach said. “These guys are going to have to meet us in the middle somewhere (143? 144?). Everyone wants to fight Manny Pacquiao now. He’ll make you money.”

It might be difficult for the bigger men to get that done. Mayweather hasn’t fought below welterweight since he knocked out Arturo Gatti at 140 in 2005. Mosley last dipped below that mark when he stopped John Brown way back in 1999.

Still, the opportunity to face the hottest fighter in the world for very big money could be enough of an incentive for Mayweather and Mosley to come down in weight.

However, Roach wonders whether Mayweather would have the courage to fight his man. He also threw out Miguel Cotto as another possible opponent.

“Mayweather could’ve fought Manny (in his comeback fight),” said Roach, referring to the announcement Saturday that Mayweather would face Marquez on July 18. “He just had to wait one day. I think he’s scared of Manny. ÔǪ We’re not going to wait around. I like to keep Manny busy. A busy fighter is a good fighter. I’d like to fight in November or December.

“If Cotto wants to come down a few pounds, we can make that happen. If Shane Mosley wants to come down a few pounds, we can make that happen.”

Tough matchup: Roach has acknowledged more than once that Mayweather doesn’t have the ideal style for Pacquiao.

“That’s a style that would give Manny some trouble” he said. “Manny likes when guys come to him. He used to be just aggressive but now he’s a good counterpuncher. He could do both, though. Mayweather would pose problems. But if Mayweather laid on the ropes, Manny would beat the sÔÇöt out of him.”

The punch: The punch that ended the fight and possibly the career of Hatton, which Pacquiao said was a left hook, was one of the great punches ever. It seemed to knock Hatton unconscious the moment it landed.

Even Roach, who has been in the business for more than 20 years, was in awe. Had he ever seen anything like it?

“Not that hard,” he said. “… He turned that over so frickin perfectly, so naturally. I knew he wasn’t getting up.”

Roach was even more excited about Pacquiao’s right-handed punches.

He knew Hatton was susceptible to the right and would be watching for Pacquiao’s vaunted left so, with the help of chief assistant Michael Mooer, he worked on the right throughout training camp.

Pacquiao landed a series of hard rights in the first round, the final one of which put Hatton down and hurt him. He never truly recovered.

“I’m so proud of the right hook,” Roach said. “Every time Ricky throws a punch, he’s open to the short hook. We worked on that all training camp. We didn’t show that on (HBO’s) 24/7 but we worked on it over and over again.”

The transformation: The question was raised: How did the Manny Pacquiao who lost to Morales in 2005 and twice battle Marquez on even terms evolve into the dominating fighting machine he is now?

“Manny’s a different fighter now, a different guy,” Roach said. “If he fought Marquez right now, I guarantee you he’d f—ing knock him out in three rounds. I’m telling you, he’s a different guy now. I know that’s a bold statement but he’s a much better fighter than the guy who fought those guys.

“ÔǪ Something clicked after Marquez (in March of last year). He’s a more-complete fighter. Everything we’ve worked on is coming into play.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]