‘I always go for the KO’

By Francis Walker
Updated: March 5, 2009

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton tug on Hatton's unrecognized IBO Junior Welterweight World Championship belt in London , England on March 2, 2009 at the press conference to announce their May 2, 2009 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas , NV . Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton tug on Hatton's unrecognized IBO Junior Welterweight World Championship belt in London , England on March 2, 2009 at the press conference to announce their May 2, 2009 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas , NV . Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

NEW YORK — When you think of a fight between Britain’s Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) of the Philippines, it sends exciting chills and nervous goose bumps throughout you body. Hatton vs. Pacquiao equals a great all-action fight.

“Hatton vs. Pacquiao: The Battle of East and West” will commence on Saturday, May 2, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and will be distributed on HBO Pay-Per-View in the United States and Sky Box Office in the United Kingdom.

A lot of people are expecting a war between two aggressive, all-action fighters. However, Hatton sees his fight with Pacquiao slightly differently.

“I think it will be a tactical fight,” Hatton told members of the press during a national conference call earlier this week. “When you fight at this level, it’s always a tactical fight.”

Hatton doesn’t expect to be the same reckless fighter that amassed an impressive 43-0 record before suffering his first loss — a TKO loss — to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in December 2007.

Instead, Hatton believes that he will capitalize on the improved patience, discipline, and boxing skills he displayed against Paulie Malignaggi in November under new trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr.

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton pose in London , England on March 2, 2009 at the press conference to announce their May 2, 2009 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada . Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton pose in London , England on March 2, 2009 at the press conference to announce their May 2, 2009 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada . Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

“After working only seven weeks with Floyd Mayweather, Sr. you see a difference in my boxing and hand speed,” Hatton said. “Every though that Paulie Malignaggi would out box Ricky Hatton. I always go for the KO.”

Working cohesively with Mayweather in their first fight together, Hatton systematically picked Malignaggi part with jabs uppercuts, and a sustained attack. The fight was so one-sided, Malignaggi’s trainer and former world welterweight champion Buddy McGirt stopped the fight.

“Mayweather and I worked together seven weeks for the first fight,” Hatton added. “For this fight [with Pacquiao], we have two more weeks. When we did the pads it was way quicker. It was like we never went away.”

From left to right: Ricky Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, and Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach pose at a press conference in London to announce “Hatton vs. Pacquiao: The Battle of East and West” on May 2, 2009 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

From left to right: Ricky Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, and Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach pose at a press conference in London to announce “Hatton vs. Pacquiao: The Battle of East and West” on May 2, 2009 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo Credit: Mark Chapman – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Although Pacquiao appeared freakishly fast and strong during his shocking destruction of Oscar De La Hoya at 147 pounds in December, Hatton feels that he can match speed with Pacquiao.

“I strongly believe that I’ll be as fast as Manny,” Hatton stated. “If I’m not as fast As Manny, I will only be marginally behind him. I’m better defensively.

As far as in-ring strategy, Mayweather, Sr. stated: “everything is pretty much in place. We’re going top whip his ass.”

Marquez-Diaz revisited

When Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) fought Juan Diaz (34-2, 17 KOs) on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, the 35 year-old Mexican became the first fighter to stop Diaz.

That, along with becoming to first to score a knockout of Joel Casamayor after only two bouts at lightweight clearly makes Marquez one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound.

The spectacular KO of Diaz allowed Marquez to pick up two of the three 135-pound championship belts left on the scales by Nate Campbell prior to a scheduled mandatory defense against Ali Funeka on Valentine’s Day. In addition to winning the WBA/WBO titles, Marquez was also awarded the Ring Magazine belt.

It’s too bad that Campbell had to leave the WBA/WBO and IBF lightweight titles at the scales for his failure to make the 135-pound limit against Funeka. Had Campbell, who scored two knockdowns in the contest en route toward winning a 12-round majority decision, been able to make weight he would have been in excellent position to defend against Marquez.

With Campbell moving up to the 140-pound junior welterweight division, where does Marquez go following two sensational KO victories in his first two bouts at lightweight?

Marquez could remain at 135 and defend his belts or move up to 140 where the fighters there are big-name favorites and would make for more compelling fights.

Maybe Marquez should move up in weight because isn’t that the job of a pound-for-pound, best fighter? When speaking of pound-for-pound, discussions should include fighters that can either dominate or perform well in each weight class they’re competing at. Marquez was an excellent featherweight, super featherweight, and now lightweight champion.

Rocky Juarez comes up short – again.

Rocky Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KOs) entered his WBA featherweight title challenge of Chris John (42-0-2, 22 KOs) having lost each of his professional losses in world title fights. Juarez came up short in two title bids against Marco Antonio Barrera along with Juan Manuel Marquez, and Humberto Soto.

In Juarez’ fifth bid to win a world title, his promoter Oscar De La Hoya and business partner Richard Shafer managed to lure John from his comfort zone in Indonesia to defend his title in Juarez’ hometown of Houston on a nationally televised HBO Boxing After Dark card to support the stellar main event between Marquez-Diaz.

Juarez, recognized for his heavy hands and power, seemed content in allowing John to dictate the tempo using his left jab. The champion was able to pile up points against Juarez, who didn’t step on the gas until the eleventh and twelfth rounds of what was a competitive fight.

It was a fight that Juarez could have and perhaps should have won because of his punching power and boxing ability. Instead, Juarez, as he has proven in previous world title fights, became passive and allowed John to build an early lead.

Juarez did hurt John in the final round but managed to salvage a draw on the judges’ astonishing scorecards by scores of 114-114, 114-114, and 114-114.

Shaun George continues to roll

Light-heavyweight prospect Shaun George (18-2-2, 9 KOs) appeared as the main attraction on a recent Broadway Boxing event at BB King’s in New York City.

The 29 year-old from Brooklyn knocked out Jaffa Ballogou at 86 seconds of the first round. It marked only the third time in 54 fights that Ballogou had been stopped in his career.

At this point, George’s biggest victory was an emphatic ninth round stoppage former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in May 2008. Byrd squeezed himself to a toothpick and was dismantled by George’s power and precision.

George has had only 22 professional fights and will need to be busier. Television exposure will be the key if he wishes to become a player in the light-heavyweight division.

George has been lobbying for a fight with former champion Glen Johnson, who is coming off a successful 10-round decision win in a rematch over Daniel Judah last week.