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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pacquiao silences Hatton fans, Floyd Sr.

Rafael's remark: Pacquiao is the king. He now is to boxing what LeBron James is to the NBA, what Tiger Woods is to golf. You get the picture. There is no doubt, especially after his utterly dominant and pulverizing knockout victory of Hatton to win the junior welterweight world championship. The pound-for-pound king not only cemented his status as the No. 1 fighter in the world, but he also went into the boxing record books. Here are the stats: He won a world championship in his sixth weight class to match Oscar De La Hoya's record. He now has won titles at flyweight (112 pounds), junior featherweight (122), featherweight (126), junior lightweight (130), lightweight (135) and junior welterweight (140). He also became the first fighter in boxing history to earn recognition as the lineal champion (the people's champion or the man who beat the man who beat the man or the real champion -- however you want to categorize it) in four divisions (112, 126, 130, 140). Further, it was Pacquiao's fourth win in a row in a different division (130, 135, 147, 140). He jumped up to welterweight in December and sent De La Hoya into retirement before dropping down for his first fight at 140 pounds, where Hatton had reigned as king for the past several years. But he proved no match for Pacquiao.

The PacMan simply ran roughshod over England's Hatton, who had brought an estimated 25,000 Brits to Las Vegas for the fight, many of whom didn't have tickets to the sold-out arena (16,262) but just wanted to be in town for the spectacular atmosphere of a big fight. No fighter travels his fans better than Hatton, and no fighter leaves his fans more disappointed in a big spot than Hatton. Many of those fans also had crossed the pond in 2007 to see Hatton get knocked out by then-No. 1 fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight title fight in the same MGM Grand ring. But Pacquiao didn't need the 10 rounds Mayweather did. Pacquiao took him out in less than two rounds in a ruthless performance.

Under trainer Freddie Roach, who predicted a stoppage win for Pacquiao inside three rounds, Pacquiao has become a two-handed fighter. He used to be nothing but a left-handed fighter. Now, the blazing fast southpaw is a two-fisted machine. His right hook scored the first knockdown in the opening round, and Hatton was done after that. A second knockdown followed with a left hand. Then late in the second round, which Pacquiao was dominating, he landed a left cross that might be one of the greatest knockout punches ever in a big fight. The shot caught Hatton square on the jaw, and he was out before he hit the canvas. Upon impact, Hatton's head smashed the mat in a brutal scene. Referee Kenny Bayless, who is one of the best, didn't bother to count. Hatton was motionless in the center of the ring and needed medical attention after what is so far the clear knockout of the year.

Hatton had a great run, winning titles in two divisions, making tens of millions of dollars and drawing some of the greatest crowds in boxing. But his run at the top looks like it's over. Maybe he will fight again, but it's clear he never again will be on this level. If he does fight again, you can bank on trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. being fired. The self-anointed greatest trainer in the world talked the talk and insulted Roach at every turn, but when it was go time, he crapped out and deserves to take his share of the blame for the loss.

As for Pacquiao, he rules boxing in the post-De La Hoya era. The fight the world wants to see is him against Floyd Mayweather Jr., who announced his unretirement hours before this fight. He'll take on old Pacquiao rival Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18. The winner, especially if it's Mayweather, against Pacquiao will be by far the biggest fight in boxing. It will happen eventually, because the money is just too great for it not to happen.

Source: espn.go.com

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