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Ricky Hatton breaks down Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

23
Feb

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In the six-plus years it’s taken welterweight superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao to thrash out a deal for their mega-fight, both have had ample time to feast on the other’s prey.

Floyd had Oscar De La Hoya; Manny had Oscar. Manny had Miguel Cotto, Floyd had Cotto. Mayweather had Shane Mosley…OK, you get the idea.



One man who faced both parties, inarguably at the height of their powers is former two division titleholder, British boxing legend Ricky Hatton. “The Hitman” lost by 10th round TKO to Mayweather in 2007 and, 17 months later, was knocked out in the second by Pacquiao.

During a brief discussion with Hatton, this reporter pointed out that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had completed their epic trilogy in only four-and-a-half years. The question has to be: Why has the public remained so patient during an endless and energy-sapping build-up?

“Mayweather and Pacquiao have held the public’s interest for so long because this match-up has maintained its status as the biggest fight out there,” said Hatton. “When Ali and Frazier were around, there were less titles and, perhaps due to that, the best fought the best more often.

“We’re currently in an era where big fights can happen but they can also fall apart because there are more options available now. It would have been tragic had this fight not been signed and I take great pride in the fact that I’ve shared the ring with both of them.”

Now a successful promoter and trainer, Hatton is a student of the game and has always professed that if he hadn’t been a professional fighter, he would still have been a diehard fan of the sport.

So the fight is big but just how big is it?

Hatton said, “Floyd is 47-0 with titles in five divisions and Manny gets credited [in some quarters] with winning titles in eight divisions. In terms of what they’ve both accomplished, it’s up there with [Marvelous Marvin] Hagler versus [Sugar Ray] Leonard versus [Thomas] Hearns. It’s up there with any of them.

“Forget this particular era; Mayweather versus Pacquiao is one of the biggest fights of all time.”

It’s an uncomfortable fact for his loyal legion of fans but the Pacquiao Puzzle has been solved more than once whereas the “May-Vinci Code” is yet to be cracked. Hatton voiced similar concerns when tactics were discussed for May 2.

“Manny is a great fighter but when you look at the trouble he had with the counter-punching style of Juan Manuel Marquez, he could be in serious trouble with Floyd Mayweather,” said Hatton with trepidation in his voice.

“With that said, Manny will take a lot of heart from how Marcos Maidana was able to test Floyd and compete with him. For that reason, I give Manny a great shot in the fight because Mayweather has slowed down a touch.”

Pacquiao supporters also point out that styles make fights and that their man will bring too much heat for the frequently invisible Mayweather. The Filipino icon won’t mind missing with punches providing he connects on a few and the pace may extract a toll on his flashy nemesis.

“Manny is always on top of you and his hand and foot speed are very hard to read,” said Hatton, who held THE RING junior welterweight title for four years. “He’s very herky-jerky and extremely dangerous when he gets into punching range.

“Floyd will have his work cut out for him; that’s for sure.”

Suddenly the strategy conversation with Hatton changes pace. One of the best things about talking to an individual who has been there and done it at the top level is he can use his vast knowledge to open your eyes.

Consider this an example:

“I feel that Manny should box in and out against Mayweather, adopting a similar style to what he used against Oscar De La Hoya. Floyd’s shoulder roll defense wouldn’t be as effective and it would bring him out of his comfort zone,” said the former champion.

“The last time Floyd was forced to come forward against a speedy fighter was with Zab Judah [in 2006] and he struggled early on. Imagine Manny bouncing around, in and out, with Floyd hunting him down using the shoulder roll.

“Manny could make life very difficult for him if he does that.”

“The Hitman” clearly respects both fighters but one senses he retains a soft spot for Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather is simply not the type of person whom the Manchester man identifies with but he did not allow that to sway him in terms of a prediction.

Hatton said, “Floyd always finds a way to win, no matter the style, and that’s the reason that I make him a slight favorite over Manny.”

 

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter at Tom_Gray_Boxing.

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