For fight fans, May 2nd is an eternity from now.
Many are consumed by the anticipation for that moment when Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton finally step into the ring to answer the opening bell. They touch gloves, and the brawl is on.
Predictions on the outcome are split down the middle. Both fighters are more or less evenly matched in size and reach. Pacquiao will have the edge in speed, Hatton will presumably have the edge in power, being at his natural weight and having taken on bigger opponents.
However, one distinct advantage that the Hitman will have over the Pacman is his “fighting style.” Manny Pacquiao all throughout his career has been a very clean fighter. He fights well and fights clean. In a fight this close that may be to his disadvantage.
Hatton on the other hand, is known to use every trick in the book to get one over his opponent. He will use his head (in more ways than one), shoulders, and land punches in places where they shouldn’t (just ask Kostya Tszyu). Hatton will push, clinch, get entangled and use rough-housing techniques that will blur the lines.
In a battle at close-quarters, this will serve him in good stead. Fighting close will also neutralize Pacquiao’s speed.
But Manny is not the world’s pound for pound best for nothing. He and Freddie Roach will come in with a solid game plan. They know that Pacquiao is most vulnerable at close-quarters. Vulnerable to Ricky’s rough-housing tactics and short stinging body punches.
Expect Manny to be quick on his feet and move out of harm’s way when Ricky rushes in. He must not even give Ricky a chance to play dirty and execute his game plan.
Recall that early in his career while campaigning as a super-bantamweight, Pacquiao struggled with a technical draw against Agapito Sanchez. Sanchez was not even a great fighter. Just an extremely dirty one.
In that fight, he used low blows and head-butts, with the fight stopped in the sixth rounds due to cuts suffered by Pacquiao. This is a classic example of how a dirty fighter can neutralize one who does not play that game.
Not to take anything away from Hatton who has more than proven to be an elite fighter, but his edge against Manny is that he does not hesitate to use “unconventional” tactics inside the ring when need be. He may just need everything in his armory if he is to take out Pacquiao.