Saturday May 2, 2009 brings us the highly anticipated matchup of speedy technician boxer/puncher Manny Pacquiao and spirited brawler/infighter Ricky Hatton.
The advertising video for the PPV Event shows Pacquiao ominously warning, “It’s the punch you don’t see that will knock you out.” Hatton responds dramatically: “You’re going to see the punch that will knock you out.
Here’s the view from the Fistic Mystic:
Before Pacquiao’s fight with Oscar De la Hoya, many people were concerned for the Pacman’s well-being. They thought that the jump up in weight was too much and that De la Hoya’s power posed a real danger to the smaller man.
De la Hoya surprised everyone by coming in weight-drained and slow. Afterwards he confessed his inability to pull the trigger when he saw holes in Pacquiao’s game. Pacquiao, for his part, didn’t fail to take advantage of De la Hoya’s weaknesses. It was a one-sided demolition so decisive that De la Hoya attempted no excuses and immediately made it clear that he intended to retire.
In Las Vegas on Saturday, Ricky Hatton should have the advantage that De la Hoya was expected to have but didn’t. Hatton is naturally larger framed and stronger than Pacquiao, and the Hit Man reminded us in his unmerciful dissection of Paulie Malignaggi that he is quick enough to make his strength pay dividends. I expect to see Pacquiao on the move right from the opening bell, moving quickly and trying to counter. Pacquiao and trainer will expect Hatton’s conditioning to be questionable, as it has sometimes been in the past.
Hatton’s prefight strategy may be more difficult to predict because of his nascent association with master trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr, but a leopard doesn’t change his spots and Hatton can’t change the fact that he’s an aggressive, hyper-competitive, innately confident brawler. The official word from the Hatton camp is that Mayweather’s job has been more to minimize Hatton’s weaknesses than to transform him into a Mayweather-style clinician. Sooner or later Hatton is going to revert to his natural style: alligator-armed inside hooker. That’s when we’ll find out whether he has learned any useful habits from Papa Mayweather.
Pacquiao can be hit, and he can be knocked down. But he possesses great toughness of both the mental and physical varieties. Don’t be surprised if Pacquiao is knocked down early, but do be surprised if he gets knocked out early. And thoughFreddie Roach may exaggerate Pacman’s mastery of technical boxing, it’s certainly true that he’s much more technically adept than Hatton. Pacquiao is the more likely of the two to make approriate strategic and tactical adjustments during the fight.
The Fistic Mystic says: Pacquiao’s tenacity and intelligence will make him a formidable opponent, but Hatton’s size and strength and improved defense will help him to outlast Pacquiao. Hatton will win by late stoppage.