Hatton can stop Pac-Man in super fight

IN life it is rare to get a second chance - but Ricky Hatton gets his tomorrow night.

By Mark Heath

IN life it is rare to get a second chance - but Ricky Hatton gets his tomorrow night.

A year-and-a-half after the Hitman succumbed to the flying fists of Floyd Mayweather Jr, he will again do battle with the universally recognised best boxer on the planet for the right to be called number one.

Although the location remains the same - the MGM Grand in Las Vegas - the foe has changed.

You may also want to watch:

But the task will be no easier. In the opposing corner for this tussle is Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, a multi-weight world champion who beat up, dominated and retired ring legend Oscar De La Hoya in his last fight.

“Pac-Man” (48-3 36KO) boasts superb hand speed and foot movement, a great double jab and straight left from his southpaw stance, impenetrable self-belief and the willingness to get involved in a macho tear-up if need be.

Most Read

After a sparkling career in the lower weight classes - he started as a 106lbs fighter in 1995 - he has been effortlessly moving up the weights, culminating in his jaw-dropping destruction of De La Hoya up at welterweight (147lbs).

He is actually moving down half-a-stone to face Hatton at light-welter, for the lightly-regarded IBO strap, and is the betting favourite to continue his incredible success story.

At first glance, you can see why Pacquiao should win this fight. He is both faster and more skilful than Hatton, while Ricky has always struggled against left-handed fighters.

One can see him trying to outspeed and outbox Hatton in much the same way he did against Oscar, firing in blurring combinations and dancing away before his opponent can respond.

It is a tactic that could work if he can keep Hatton off him and stay away from the clinches and inside fighting that Ricky uses to break his foes.

But can he? For me, this is the key to the whole fight - and I simply don't believe that Pacquiao will have the strength and power to resist Ricky's suffocating advances.

The Mancunian hero (45-1 32KO) has dominated the light-welterweight division since his memorable dismantling of Kostya Tszyu in 2005, and has vowed he will never be beaten at ten stone.

Yes, Pacquiao beat De La Hoya up at welterweight last time out, but the Golden Boy was a dead man walking at the weight and ended up serving as a multi-million-dollar punching dummy.

Remember, Pac-Man had only ever fought at lightweight once before his coronation against Oscar, and that was against the brave-but-limited David Diaz.

Tonight he will be fighting a fully-hydrated, fully-prepared Hatton, who has proved time and time again that he is a beast at 140lbs.

Ricky is the bigger and stronger man and - under new trainer Floyd Mayweather Senior - has refined his relentless fighting style into one of educated aggression, demonstrated emphatically in his last bout with the outclassed Paulie Malignaggi.

I can envisage Hatton taking a couple of rounds to get into the fight, but then breaking up and busting down Pacquiao's resistance with his trademark body attack and overwhelming pressure.

If he can draw Pacquiao into a stand-and-trade fight - and Manny never usually backs down from a scrap - then I believe he can hurt the Filipino far more than he can be hurt.

This will be a firecracker of a fight, between two of the world's most entertaining and engaging boxers, but I think that Hatton will come out on top and realise his dream of beating the best.

Pacquiao has been stopped twice to the body before, and I fancy he will be again tomorrow night. Hatton by KO somewhere between rounds 8 and 12 sounds about right.

- Hatton vs Pacquiao will be shown live on Sky Box Office from 10pm on Saturday night.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter