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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pacman packs punch at any weight

LAS VEGAS - Manny Pacquiao really does pack a punch, as he proved again with three knockdowns and ultimately a knockout of Ricky Hatton on Saturday in capturing the Ring magazine and IBO junior welterweight titles.

"This win was as big as my last fight against Oscar De La Hoya," Pacquiao said.

Already considered by many boxing's best fighter, Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) silenced skeptics with an early power supply of concussive bombs against the normally iron-chinned Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) before more than 17,000 screaming fans at the MGM Grand.

Many doubted the Filipino southpaw had the ability to carry his power to the junior welterweight division, though he was coming off a technical knockout win over De La Hoya in December.

Hatton and his trainer, Floyd Mayweather, were convinced Pacquiao was too small.

"I really thought Ricky could get him," Mayweather said.

Pacquiao worked for two months preparing for the move to the junior welterweight division. He already had world titles in the flyweight, junior featherweight, junior lightweight, and lightweight divisions. Now he has junior welterweight titles, too.

In the first round Hatton moved in aggressively against Pacquiao and immediately worked the inside. Both traded punches, with the Englishman landing frequently in the first 40 seconds until Pacquiao countered with a left hand. Suddenly, as Hatton lunged in, a Pacquiao right hook to the chin dropped him to his knees.

Hatton got up shakily but beat the count. With less than 30 seconds left in the round, a left hand dropped Hatton again near his own corner. He beat the count and the round ended.

Hatton jumped out of his corner for the second round and immediately attacked Pacquiao. A right uppercut landed, but Pacquiao countered with some combinations. The lefty brushed Hatton's face with a right jab, then loaded up an overhand left on Hatton's chin. Down he went with a thud and he did not get up for more than a minute.

Referee Kenny Bayless did not bother to count and stopped the fight at 2:59 of the second round.

"We worked hard on the right hook," Pacquiao said. "We knew he was looking for the left hand."

Freddie Roach, who's trained Pacquiao for eight years, had predicted his fighter would win in less than three rounds. He finally revealed his reason.

"Every time he throws a punch he cocks it," Roach said. "We were ready."

Though Pacquiao was confident of his plan, even he was "surprised it came so easy."

"But we worked on it very hard," he said. "This wasn't personal, it was business."

Hatton was taken to the hospital after the fight.

"It was a hard shot but I'm OK," Hatton said. "I really didn't see the punch coming. It was a great shot."

Other Bouts

WBC junior lightweight champion Humberto Soto caught Daniel Gaudet with a right uppercut that proved the beginning of the Canadian fighter's end.

He survived the count but was met with a jab and right cross that sent him reeling along the ropes and to the canvas. Referee Jay Nady stopped the fight at 2:25 of the ninth round.

In a middleweight bout, Daniel Jacobs (16-0, 14 KOs) found Michael Walker (20-2, 12 KOs) no easy foe, winning an eight-round decision. Jacobs was taller but could not muster enough power to discourage Walker.


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