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Monday, May 4, 2009

Hatton’s size, power, drum and bugle core not enough

THE crowd was in a state of shock at the MGM Grand. The much-anticipated fight, dubbed “East vs. West,” certainly had the fireworks it was shaped to be. It’s ending, however, was not expected.

Drama unfolding

THE drama began several days earlier as supporters of both fighters slowly trickled into Las Vegas. The flights from Manila were extraordinarily full as Filipinos flew in to cheer Manny Pacquiao in his attempt to steal the International Boxing Organization light-welterweight belt from Ricky Hatton.

Walking around the Vegas strip show a marked increase in the number of Ricky Hatton supporters, some already beginning to air their loud support for their own boxing hero. Although Hatton held the belt, what was truly on the line was the question on who is the world’s best, pound-for-pound.

The weigh-in was an indication of how it was going to be like during the fight. The Brits brought in a drum and bugle core to guide them as they chanted, whistled and cheered to support their champion. They collectively created a thunder-like sound that to some may be the variable that provides Hatton the boost to beat Pacquiao.

The fight plan

AFTER the weigh-in, during separate talks, the respective trainers of the two boxers provided a glimpse of their game plan.

Freddie Roach intimated that all Pacquiao had to do was to implement what they practiced for. Their drills consistently included fighting from a distance, moving to his right and throwing well-timed right hooks. All these because they expected Hatton to keep on moving forward.

Floyd Mayweather Sr., on the other hand, shared that aside from Hatton’s size and strength, there will be a lot of head movements, fakes and feints. The intention was to derail Pacquiao’s rhythm and provide opportunities for Hatton to throw his left hooks to the body and head.

The “Hitman” promised his supporters, all 25,000 of them who flew in just to watch him, that he will not disappoint. He clearly predicted a win.

The “Pacman,” true to form, replied that only God knows what is to happen.

Manny the magnificent

THAT fateful day on May 2, 2009, Manny Pacquiao erased any doubt that he was the best there is. In only two short rounds, Pacquiao destroyed the bigger and stronger Hatton.

Surprisingly, there was no adjustment on the part of Hatton. There was a total disconnect between how he was fighting and what his trainer said he would do. The pride of Manchester pressed forward and, in typical Hatton style, began to bully Pacquiao.

On the other hand, because it was exactly what Roach and his team prepared for, Pacquiao began countering effectively with his right hook and left lead straights.

The crowd went wild. Then the unthinkable happened. Hatton was tagged by a short but powerful right hook coming in. The Hitman went down on all fours and opted to wait for the 8-count before standing up.

The cheering from the Brits suddenly died down as the Filipinos took over. Cheers and shouts filled the arena as clearly Pacquiao had the punch to finish Hatton.

Instead of holding back and collect his thoughts, Hatton continued his aggressive style. He kept moving forward, which turned out be to Pacquiao’s advantage. Pacquiao caught Hatton again this time with a left hand sending him down to the canvas a second time.

Everyone held their breath in anticipation during the break between the first and second rounds. The predominantly Hatton crowd continued to chant to keep their man in the fight. It was, as it turned out, not enough.

In the second round, the dominance in skill and style of Pacquiao began to surface. Hatton opted to continue attacking, hoping to land that big punch that would negate his dismal performance in the first round. Pacquiao calmly countered and waited for the perfect moment. That moment came in the last few seconds of the round. In typical Pacquiao fashion, his feared left hand connected flush on the face of his opponent. Hatton fell flat on his back and laid motionless. The fight was stopped 2:59 of round 2.

The Filipinos began to rejoice. Pandemonium broke loose. Hatton supporters were stunned.

The fight leaves no doubt who the best fighter is today. As it turned out, the fighter who planned well and trained harder came out the victor. Once again, a magnificent performance by Manny Pacquiao.


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