Manny Pacquiao: The Filipino’s legend grows every time he steps into the ring. He dazzled us with his consistency against the Mexican trio of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez. He shocked us when he stopped Oscar De La Hoya. And on Saturday, he turned in a performance that is destined to be a classic. Pacquiao’s speed, power, ferocity and skill all met on the chin of Ricky Hatton and knocked him out cold. It was nothing short of chilling. Now, more than ever, he’s the greatest star in boxing and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Ricky Hatton: The last word one should use to describe Hatton is loser. The pride of Manchester, England, has had an excellent career and carried himself with as much class as any fighter before him. He has nothing to be ashamed of. At the same time, he must be tremendously disappointed in his performance. He came in fit and confident but was barely able to put up a fight against the world’s greatest fighter before thousands of his fans who traveled from England. “He feels like he let everyone down,” said someone close to his camp. The $20 million or so he’ll earn will ease the pain, though.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Freddie Roach: Pacquiao’s trainer is the first to tell you that this amazing run is Pacquiao’s doing, not his. However, Roach looks better and better every time his prot├®g├® fights. He took a relatively raw young fighter in 2001 and turned him into a complete fighting machine in eight years. Observers are beginning to describe Pacquiao as one of the greatest fighters of all time. The same might be said of Roach among trainers. Consider the game plan Saturday. He saw that Hatton was susceptible to the right and would be watching for Pacquiao’s vaunted left so he worked on the right throughout camp. It was the right hook that first put Hatton down and initiated his downfall. Brilliant.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Floyd Mayweather Sr.: We shouldn’t be too hard on Mayweather. His trash talking throughout the promotion wasn’t as malicious as it might’ve seemed. He was having fun and helping to sell the fight. He looks rather foolish now, though, particularly after repeatedly questioning Roach’s ability as a trainer. Mayweather reportedly was at the epicenter of conflict in the Hatton camp, apparently clashing with co-trainer Lee Beard. If Hatton fights again, it would seem that Mayweather won’t be in his corner. Their short marriage, which included a victory over Paulie Malignaggi, wasn't a good one.
Filipino fans: Fans from the Philippines, both those in Las Vegas and those at home Saturday, must be wondering what they did to deserve such a precious gift as Manny Pacquiao. The pride and joy he brings his people, both because of his success in the ring and the manner in which he carries himself outside it, is incalculable. Remember, we have countless sports heroes in the U.S. The same is true of many countries whose athletes excel at one sport or another. In the Philippines, the have only Pacquiao who has reached a high level of international fame. And, fortunate for them, he happens to be the very best at what he does.
British fans: You come halfway around the world to support your favorite son and he is demolished in less than six minutes. That had to be very disappointing. Hatton isn’t just an athlete to the people from Manchester, he’s part of the family. And when a family member suffers, they suffer too. Their support didn’t waver, however. They sang that wonderful song – “There’s only one Ricky Hatton” – immediately after the fight ended and were still singing it the following morning around the MGM Grand. They loved him before the fight; they love him now.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: The former pound-for-pound king announced at a news conference on Saturday morning that he was coming out of retirement to fight Marquez on July 18. He rambled about how much money he’s made, how great he is, how he should still be considered the best fighter in the world because no one has beaten him, how he doesn’t like De La Hoya (the co-promoter of the fight) and ÔÇª blah blah blah. The promotion was five minutes old and already most people seem to be tired of looking at his face and listening to his drivel. I’m not suggesting Mayweather is a bad guy; I don’t think he is. He’s just annoying as hell.
Juan Manuel Marquez: The best fighter from Mexico probably won’t beat Mayweather. He is going up 1¾ weight classes and he doesn’t have the right style for his quicker opponent. Marquez is a counter puncher; he needs his opponent to come to him. In this case, he’ll have to find a way to cut off the ring and catch Mayweather. That’s a tall order because of Mayweather's quickness and undeniable ability. All that said, this is a great opportunity for Marquez. Most important to him, it’ll be his biggest payday. And if he somehow wins, he’ll be only a notch below Pacquiao as best fighter pound for pound – if that.
Mayweather-Marquez catch weight: Marquez’s people say the fighters agreed to a catch weight of 144 pounds, nine more than he’s ever fought at. Mayweather was asked repeatedly to confirm the catch weight but would say only that it’s a welterweight fight, which has a limit of 147. Apparently, this issue hasn’t been settled. Mayweather will probably try to find a way to fight at 147, perhaps by paying Marquez off. However, if the fighters really agreed to 144, Marquez should do everything possible to hold Mayweather to it. Giving Mayweather those three pounds is giving him a significant advantage.
Golden Boy Promotions: Mayweather talked to promoter Don King about possibility handling his comeback but it went no further than that. Instead, Mayweather decided to fight Marquez and allow De La Hoya’s company to handle the promotion. Golden Boy, along with Top Rank Boxing, already dominate the sport. Adding one of the sport’s biggest money-makers – Mayweather – even for one fight is a significant boost for the company.
Manny Pacquiao: “The last punch, a left hook, it’s a hard punch. I believe he cannot get up.” Ya think? Pacquiao drew chuckles at the post-fight news conference when he said this because Hatton was out cold for several minutes.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]