How Manny Pacquiao Blew It by Calling Off the Ricky Hatton Fight

Joe OneillCorrespondent IIJanuary 21, 2009

I love Manny Pacquiao. He's truly a warrior and a wonderful fighter to watch. Without a doubt, he's one of the best fighters of his generation.

But he's blown it by calling off the May 2 fight with Ricky Hatton. 

The original terms of the fight were that Hatton and Pacquiao would split the purse 50/50.

The reason for the even split, in spite of Pacquiao's recent win over Oscar De La Hoya, was that Hatton brings a tremendous amount of coverage in Britain while Manny brings sparse revenue from his native Phillipines. 

The fight was to be held at the MGM in Las Vegas and the PPV rights were being negotiated with both HBO and Showtime. It was going to be a huge, huge payday for both fighters with a considerable amount of publicity.

So what happened?

Greed. Pure and simple.

Pacquiao thinks that by beating De La Hoya he's the next 'big thing'.

That's his native land.

In the United States and Europe, he's somewhat of an unknown quantity. He's never generated anywhere near the kind of PPV buys as a De La Hoya. 

The problem seems to stem from Pacquiao's popularity at home.

In the Philippines, Manny is regarded as a combination of Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan, Jesus, and Barack Obama. He's a successful singer, aspiring actor, and even budding politician (in spite of no political resume whatsoever).

He's accustomed to being seen as a savior and idol and he expects the same treatment in the US and Europe.

He's not there yet.

It's questionable if he could ever obtain the status of an Ali, Leonard, or De La Hoya. That level of notoriety is reserved for the special few who turn boxing into an art. They combine sublime skill with grace and charisma. 

Manny needs some momentum.

He needs a win over Hatton to confirm his place as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He needs endorsements. He needs to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Then he can start demanding the big dollars. 

Now he's in limbo.

It's never, ever a good thing to pull out of a fight. In this world of mass communication, 24/7 sports, and increasing competition from MMA, boxers especially have to be sensitive to the public's appetite.

Hatton was the perfect opponent for Manny. He's not nearly as dangerous as a Floyd Mayweather or Juan Marquez. He's an exciting fighter that would have all of Britain watching the fight.

A win could have catapulted him up into another level.

What's next? Maybe a match with Floyd Mayweather or a third bout with Juan Marquez. Certainly those will be good fights, but Manny lost out on a great opportunity.

As I've said, Floyd Mayweather is a brilliant but boring fighter and a third fight with Marquez won't get the general public excited. 

I hope they can work this out. It would have been a great fight between two warriors.