LAS VEGAS, MAY 4, 2009
(STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - Ricky Hatton learned a devastating lesson in the ring against Manny Pacquiao yesterday: speed kills. Pacquiao did a lot of things to embarrass the British ring legend, like knock him down not just once, but twice in the first round. Hatton was so concerned with Pacman’s left hook that he neglected the right, and it sent him crashing down to the canvas in a daze.

“He’s faster today than he was in the last fight,” gushed television boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz. “Alex Ariza has done a tremendous job with this fighter. The way he has improved from fight to fight, has been incredible.”

“First of all, his right is just as strong as his left now,” observed Philippine team player Willie Miller, who watched the fight at the Nike viewing event at Bonifacio High Street. “Hatton was so worried after getting hit by the right, in the second round, the left got him right away.”

“I think he’s faster and stronger now,” declared basketball coach Koy Banal. “He’s really improved even more.”

Pacquiao had a little difficulty in the beginning, but after getting his rhythm, he was a blur. Even though Hatton tried to hold, clinch, push Pacquiao’s head down, clinch and even throw a couple of low blows which referee Kenny Bayless caught, Pacquiao was unperturbed. All the work improving his right had paid off.

“Manny knew how to find the openings, and hit all the weak spots. He had scouted Hatton very well,” added ABS-CBN sports commentator Boyet Sison. “Manny Pacquiao is indestructible, as far as I’m concerned.”

And with the announcement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is coming out of retirement to face Juan Manuel Marquez in July at a catch weight of 143 pounds, a new world of possibilities opens up for Pacquiao. Marquez is desperate for a third fight, and is confident he can beat the Filipino champion. For Mayweather, he may not be looking at Marquez as a tune-up, but he is going to put questions about his legacy as one of the greatest of all time to rest. But, since Mayweather will be moving down, he may not be as strong. And he is known as a defensive fighter, a tactician who will wear you down. But even against Oscar dela Hoya, Pretty Boy Floyd moved up, not down.

But despite the new developments, Filipino boxing fans and experts still think Pacquiao will come out on top.

“I think they’ll think twice after seeing this fight,” Miller added. “Manny didn’t even have a hard time. Nobody can beat Manny.”

“Marquez has been chasing Manny Pacquiao all his life,” Nathanielsz continues. “I think the Mayweather fight will be a good fight. I’d like to see a Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy, to settle all the questions. I’d like to see him beat Mayweather in a stunning upset. It will be a great fight.”

Truly, a lot of pride now comes into the picture. Marquez lost his title to Pacquiao by a slim margin, and has been on a mission. In his last fight – his first as a lightweight – he butchered fearsome Joel Casamayor. Mayweather, for his part, has been on the sidelines after moving up and beating up Oscar dela Hoya. But now that people are saying he might not be the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter after all, Mayweather is starting to take notice. Besides, the money ain’t bad.

But either of them may learn a big lesson from the new and continuously improving Manny Pacquiao: You can’t hit what ain’t there.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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