SJA member KEVIN MITCHELL was ringside in Las Vegas for The Guardian yesterday. Here he assesses Manny Pacquiao’s impact on Ricky Hatton
Ricky Hatton will not fight again. Not the one the fans remember. Even if a shredded remnant of the fighter who thrilled them for a decade contemplates doing so when he recovers from the shocking Âknockout Manny Pacquiao inflicted on him at the MGM Grand, the real Ricky ÂHatton started preparing for retirement soon after Âenduring a similar experience in the same ring 17 months ago.
The left hook with which Floyd Mayweather Jr repelled Hatton’s crude Âchallenge in the 10th round of their welterÂweight title fight in December 2007 was the punch that instigated the Mancunian’s slow exit from boxing. Until then, he was unbeaten, unfazed, the shiny young champion of his people. He was to grow old quickly. “He can’t take a quality shot any more,” a close friend said later on Saturday night, “and I think he knows it.”
Mayweather’s punch did not have the concussive finality of Pacquiao’s wicked left, but the two blows will forever be linked. Pacquiao’s arrived in the final second of round two, the third knockdown blow the Filipino had to throw to claim Hatton’s IBO and Ring Magazine light-welterweight titles, and if Hatton heeds the wishes of family and friends the last one he will ever take.
Pacquiao put Hatton down in the first round with a right hook he admitted to his corner he never saw, and again with a short left before the bell. From that point on, it was clear we were in for a short night. Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, told later how they had worked on that right hook for weeks. “Ricky cocks his punches before he throws ’em. Every time he left an opening, Pacquiao’s so quick, I knew the inside hook would work every time.”
This was an echo of the strategic naivety Hatton showed against Mayweather, when he was out-thought and knocked down by a punch devised by the American’s uncle and trainer, Roger.
Hatton seemed to have collected his thoughts when they resumed but was again afflicted by the “red mist” he blames for his wild, swinging ways and walked into more pinpoint shots from the smaller man. When the end came, it was as if we were all sharing the same, slow nightmare, so lightly did Hatton float to the floor. When he landed, he could barely open his eyes, but you could see the pain in them as he lay motionless, the referee, Ken Bayless, not needing to count him out.
Hatton did not just lose a fight and his titles at that moment. He lost all connection with the rest of us in the arena, the power drained from a body he had taken three months to whip into shape.
Read the rest of Mitchell’s analysis of Hatton’s decline by clicking here