Can “Hitman” Hatton Shoot Down Boxing's “Pacman”?

Mio de la CruzContributor IApril 25, 2009

LAS VEGAS - APRIL 16:  Boxer Ricky Hatton, (R) of Great Britain works out at a gym with his trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. on April 16, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hatton will fight boxer Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines on May 2, 2009 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

Who is Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton?

For most part of his storied boxing career, Hatton fought in his native country, usually in Manchester, England where he ruled the light welterweight division of the largely inactive World Boxing Union (WBU) from 2001 until he vacated it in 2005.

It was also in Manchester where he won the biggest fight of his career when he knocked out Russian-born Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu to win the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light welterweight title in 2005 and the respect of the boxing world.   

In 2006, he once more regaled his legions of fans in the UK by defeating Carlos Maussa to retain his IBF light welterweight title and to win the vacant WBA light welterweight title in Sheffield, UK. 

He started to actively campaign in the United States only in 2006 when he fought Luis Collazo for the vacant WBA welterweight crown and won it via decision. 

He fought two more winning bouts in Las Vegas, Nevada against grizzled Mexican boxer Jose Luis Castillo and little-known Colombian Juan Urango before challenging Mayweather Jr. for the WBC welterweight title.

Hatton plowed Mayweather for much of the first six rounds, stoking “Pretty Boy” with body shots while pinning him against the ropes, a studied strategy adopted also by some of Mayweather’s other opponents to wear him down. 

However, Mayweather had some tricks of his own, including some surgically targeted jabs that opened a cut over Hatton’s right eye.

The Briton appeared to have lost his sting by Round Eight, allowing the American fighter to score points and lethal combinations until the 10th when he dropped Hatton with a classic check-hook to the chin.  As Mayweather instinctively moved forward to deliver the “kill,” referee Joe Cortez decided it was enough and stopped the fight. 

After a lackluster win over Juan Lazcano and an unexciting TKO victory over Paulie Malignaggi last year, Hatton offered to fight Pacquiao in his favorite turf before his countrymen in Manchester, England.

Apparently unsure of the outcome of his battle against boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya, Manny had picked up the challenge and the promise of a huge paycheck even if he had lost against de la Hoya. As fate would have it, he did not and quickly balk at the idea of fighting Hatton in his home turf and risk the same fate suffered by Tszyu.

In a poll conducted recently by BBC, Hatton’s countrymen are divided over the outcome of England’s favorite boxing champion forthcoming title defense against the boxing world's undisputed pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. 

Ken Buchanan, one of Britain’s boxing legends, muses “Ricky's been a great ambassador for British boxing for many years and I'll put a couple of bob on him. But you can't change Ricky, he's set in how he boxes.

"He goes forward, he's a pressure fighter and against Pacquiao he'll do what he's always done—and Pacquiao, who's a tremendously talented fighter, will be too fast for him."

Former super middle- and light-heavyweight world champion Joe Calzaghe thinks “it’s going to be a tough fight for Ricky, but he’s got a better chance of beating Manny than Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

"Ricky definitely has the height advantage against Pacquiao, so if he can close the range and cut him down he has a great chance of winning.  He’s got to take his chance.”

Current WBC super-middleweight champion Carl Froch believes "Ricky's got a very difficult job ahead of him. He's the underdog and he's going to struggle, but I think he is going to pull it off. He's bigger and stronger than Pacquiao and if the referee lets him fight his fight, which is a rough, dirty, pub-brawl type of fight, he'll rough him up and he'll beat him."