Pacquiao punches way to top of boxing world
LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather Jr. took his daughter bowling Saturday night after announcing his return to the ring. Good thing, because if he had seen Manny Pacquiao fight, he might have figured out what boxing fans now know - that the future of boxing lies in the furious fists of a most unlikely new superstar.
Had he been watching, Mayweather might have been as stunned at what he saw as his estranged father seemed to be in Ricky Hatton's corner. Fighters just aren't supposed to do the kind of things Pacquiao did to Hatton in 5 minutes 59 seconds of utter domination before a thrilled crowd at the MGM Grand hotel.
All Mayweather can do now is get in line. The road to greatness now runs through a fighter who truly does let his fists do the talking.
"If Mayweather wants a piece of the little Filipino, just be my guest," promoter Bob Arum crowed.
That's not likely to happen right away, but the odds are good it will happen eventually. There's too much money involved for it not to.
On a day when Mayweather tried to steal his thunder by unretiring, Pacquiao showed why he is the most exciting thing to happen to boxing in a long, long time.
He didn't just beat Hatton. Didn't just knock him out.
He demolished a world-class fighter who had never lost at his natural weight of 140 pounds, and he did it with such precision and ease that the talk afterward wasn't whether Pacquiao is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but whether he might be one of the best ever.
A right hook - a punch most southpaws don't even have - started it, dropping Hatton midway through the first round. A left cross that may be one of the greatest single punches thrown in a big fight ended it with a dramatic flourish.
"I'm surprised the fight was so easy," Pacquiao said. "He was wide open for the right hook. I knew he would be looking for my left."
When it was over, Hatton was sprawled motionless on his back in the center of the ring.
Referee Kenny Bayless took one look at Hatton and declared the fight over.
"I didn't have to count," Bayless said.
Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) earned $12 million for the fight, while Hatton (45-2) was paid $8 million.
A few hours earlier, Mayweather declared, "The king is back," and said he was ready to reclaim his title as the best pound-for-pound fighter. But boxing has a new king in an unassuming fighter so good that he won his last four fights in four weight classes.
It's a remarkable story even in a sport where tales of rags-to-riches are commonplace. There was a time when Pacquiao lived in a cardboard shack in his native Philippines, and there didn't seem anything special about him when he fought his first fight there at 106 pounds in 1995.
But he began growing and started knocking people out. He hooked up with trainer Freddie Roach and learned how to use his right hand as well as his left.
He sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement, and may have done the same to Hatton. And he's such a hero at home there's talk of him running for president.
While Mayweather plays the villain with great success, Pacquiao comes across as a humble fighter who cares about nothing except doing his job, then getting together with his band to make some music as he did after stopping Hatton. He's fairly fluent in English and makes a point of speaking it instead of relying on a translator, and he acts like a professional in everything he does in boxing.
Most important, though, he comes to fight. Oh, does he come to fight.