Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton: Another Step Towards Greatness

Christopher NewberryContributor IApril 30, 2009

LONDON - MARCH 02:  Ricky Hatton (L) and Manny Pacquiao fight over the belt as they pose for photos at the Imperial War Museum on March 2, 2009  in London. Ricky Hatton will fight Manny Pacquiao on Saturday May 2, 2009 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It's just two days until the big matchup between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao—an incredible matchup in its own right.

Our taste buds for this fight have only been teased by the constant media coverage it has received. One can only wonder what it's like in Las Vegas right now, with all of the Englishmen flocking to the States to watch their fellow countryman clash against the pound—for—pound best fighter in the ring right now.

Whatever the case may be, all one can truly ask for of all of this build—up is for an exciting fight on Saturday night's Pay Per View. 

Around this time last year, Ricky Hatton was preparing for his return to the ring after a humbling defeat at the hands of Floyd "Money" Mayweather just six months beforehand. There were many questions concerning Hatton's situation and whether or not he would be able to rebound from such a devastating defeat. 

Having returned to his natural weight class, would he be able to continue his evident dominance in said weight class? Or would the loss effect him so much mentally that he would have to seriously consider the very real talk of retirement that was suggested to him just six months before?

Hatton would go on to achieve a workman-like yet unimpressive victory against Juan Lazcano. He was hurt on several occasions by the same shot that knocked him out in the Mayweather fight: the left hook.

Surely, this was not all that was left for Ricky Hatton. Hopefully, the Englishman had something left in the tank.

Eventually, changes were made in the Hatton Camp including a new trainer that would prove to benefit Hatton in his next match against the elusive Paulie Malignaggi.  

Under the watchful eye of Floyd Mayweather Sr., certain aspects of Ricky Hatton's fighting style were honed and conditioned to make him a more efficient fighting machine rather than just a raging bull. These would prove useful in this fight, as Ricky Hatton would batter and bully a completely overmatched Malignaggi until Buddy McGirt finally threw in the towel.

Ricky Hatton was officially back!

Around this time last year, Manny Pacquiao was preparing for what would be a short-lived campaign at 135 lbs.  He would make his debut in devastating fashion by completely pounding David Diaz in a nine round massacre, ending with Diaz laying face down on the canvas.

Those who questioned whether or not Pacquiao would be able to carry his power up in weight with him had just received their answer.

Manny would then go on to sign a deal to face Oscar De La Hoya in a match that was completely one—sided in terms of competition. Pac-Man cut through De La Hoya like a hot knife through butter. While most experts were critical of this match, claiming the Golden Boy was trying to pull off his best "Golden Bully" impression, it would go on to bite De La Hoya in his side. 

Pacquiao completely pummeled Oscar for eight straight rounds. When Oscar refused to answer the bell at the beginning of the ninth, the crown for pound—for—pound best fighter on the planet was passed on to Manny Pacquiao.

Which leads us here, in possibly one of boxing's better years in the past decade. Although—or posisibly because—our economy is extremely weak, it would appear that many of our favorite pugilists have decided to pull out all the stops as of late. 

Many fighters are deciding that, rather than tip—toeing around the negotiation tables and making excuses for why they should not fight one another, the best place to settle their differences (and put money in their wallets) would be in the ring.

Here we have such a highly competitive matchup in Pacquiao versus Hatton. 

This fight has all the makings of a highly entertaining matchup. Both men are very aggressive in their respective fighting styles and neither one is going to run away from the other, hurt or not. 

What will make the difference in this match are two things: desire and efficiency.

Manny Pacquiao is an extremely active fighter who uses good footwork, head movement, and high activity to accompany his incredible power that has followed him with every weight class he has fought at. These skills have helped him completely overwhelm his opponents over the years.

In this match, he won't have to do much different in order to get the victory. 

Manny truly will just have to continue being Manny, all the while not allowing Hatton to smother and overpower him. Many experts say that Hatton holds claim to certain intangibles that may give Pacquiao trouble. Yet the fact of the matter is that while Hatton may be somewhat stronger than Pacquiao, he is the exact type of fighter that Pac-Man can "eat alive." 

Six months with Floyd Mayweather Sr. will not be enough to break Hatton out of his bad habits, which include a lack of defensive ability. 

The only fighters that have had success against Pacquiao have been sharp counterpunchers with good defense and boxing skill. Hatton is good, but he is going to be who he is. In order to get the victory, he is going to have to do more than slightly improve the usual.

In order for Ricky Hatton to win this match, we will need to see more improvement in his overall boxing ability. While Ricky has the ability to crowd, smother, frustrate, and maul his opponents, he will definitely need more than that to beat Pacquiao. 

First of all, he will need to throw more punches. Coming straight forward and throwing three punches will not be enough when in the ring with a fighter of Manny's ability. That, in fact, will only get Ricky knocked out again. 

To win, Hatton will have to use his jab, more effective movement and aggressiveness.

He will have to be less predictable in his movement while using affective aggressiveness to help nullify Manny's speed. If Hatton is able to do this, we just might see an upset on Saturday night.

That, however, is not something that this writer believes he is going to see. While it will be an entertaining match, I believe that speed will be the key in this matchup. That advantage belongs to Manny Pacquiao. 

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks, and Hatton is not the type of fighter who has the reflexes nor ability to outslick Manny Pacquiao. Once he recognizes that staying on the outside with Pac-Man will not work in his case, Hatton will result to old habits and go back to using bull-rushing, mauling tactics. 

These tactics will only cause him to get hit hard and often by Pacquiao.

Hatton may be able to land some decent shots in the fight, but it won't be enough against a ready Pacquiao. I believe it will be an entertaining, yet truly one-sided affair that will result in an 11th round stoppage in favor of Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao.

Hatton might be tough, but as Clint Eastwood said in Million Dollar Baby, tough ain't enough.