Ricky "HitManny" Hatton Or Manny "Ricky Is Hatdone" Pacquiao

Barry EisenmanContributor IDecember 23, 2008

After watching Hatton’s beating of the run-and-gun powder-puff puncher Paulie Malignaggi, and Pacquiao total dismantling of a dried out and old Golden Boy, one can only hope that the Pacquiao-Hatton fight will be a more exciting contest.

Much like the boxing rivalries of the past—Ward-Gatti, Vasquez-Marquez and Barrera-Morales—this fight could very well be boxing’s next great rivalry.

Or, it could fail to meet the expectations of this reporter.

There is no question that both fighters have the punching power, the firepower, the staying power and the will power to win this fight.

In my opinion, however, what is questionable and what just may decide the outcome of this fight is which fighter has “more tread left on their road-worn tires.”

It’s a fact that a fighter’s body only has so many miles on it. So, whose body will go flat first and whose will have enough left to endure?

Although Hatton has a tendency to balloon up between fights—while feeding on bangers and mash and chasing it down with several Black and Tans—both men will come out from camp well conditioned and into the fight very focused.

Despite their combined record of 94 wins, four losses, and two draws with 69 knockouts, each fighter has had tough fights over the past four years. Perhaps the wars that Manny has fought—against a much-higher caliber of fighter—have taken its toll in ways he is not aware of.

Or, perhaps Hatton’s lack of experience against truly world-class fighters and the affects of losing his invincibility by being knocked out by Mayweather will prove problematic for Hatton—especially when he gets whacked by Pacquiao’s thunderous combinations.

Let’s face it, Malignaggi’s boxing style and lack of punching power was neither a test of Hatton’s durability nor his ability to still take a hard punch and recover quickly to go on. No offense Paulie, but you’re no Mayweather.

Additionally, Ricky Hatton has never faced a fighting machine like Manny Pacquiao—but Manny has faced rougher, tougher opponents than has Hatton.

The other questions that need to be answered are: How will each fighter react when they get hit by that hard come-from-nowhere punch and then the next I-didn’t-see-it coming punch? How will each react to the cumulative effects of all those body and head shots that will be thrown by both fighters? Will one choose to become the boxer and counterpuncher and abandon standard fighting methodology?

I don’t see this as being much of a fight for this reason—Pacquiao’s speed and power will be too much for Hatton’s porous defense. Hatton’s defense is his offense—and if Pacquiao can neutralize it then Hatton will be in trouble early.

While Hatton may possess the power to beat Pacquiao, I am not convinced that he can sustain Manny’s pace and arsenal for more than six to eight rounds.  After all, Hatton is easy to hit because he only goes in one direction—straight ahead with his head unprotected and he cannot fight backing up. He’s a perfect set up for Pacquiao’s style of straight left hands, right jabs and hooks.

What can Hatton do? Without question, he needs to be in the best shape of his life. He needs to get to Manny’s body—early and often—zapping his energy so that if the fight goes into the later rounds it will be more evenly matched.

His purpose would be better served by training in the US and hiring the fastest southpaw sparring partners around—even if that means bringing Hector Camacho and Pernell Whitaker out of mothballs. But even with that, Ricky’s corner better bring lots of adrenalin and Vaseline because he’s going to get hit a lot and will eventually get cut up.

Last, he needs to stay off the ropes and keep the fight in the center of the ring.

The keys for Pacquiao: He has Freddie Roach as his trainer and his strategic architect. And, he has the skills, tools and ability to adapt and adjust to various fighting styles. However, he needs to be very careful in close quarters and watch out for Hatton’s head and elbows that could easily open up that scar tissue over his right eye.

Finally, he needs to dictate the pace, attack Hatton’s body and bust him up with that straight left hand and right hooks to the head.

My prediction: A good give and take action-packed fight for about five rounds with Hatton getting TKO’d somewhere between rounds six and eight.