SOMEWHERE in England, Ricky Hatton, the recipient of arguably the hardest punch Manny Pacquiao ever threw, must be finally flashing a smile.
Hatton, whose life fell apart after he was leveled by a hybrid left from Pacquiao in the second round of their May 2009 super lightweight (140 pounds) tussle, recently hit the comeback road in the hope of exorcising the demons of the catastrophic loss to the Pacman. Unfortunately for Hatton, he lost his comeback fight by knockout, leaving many of his followers wondering if the ‘Hitman’ will ever recover from the Pacquiao debacle.
There may be no need for Hatton to pursue another comeback fight. While he will never get to avenge the numbing setback he suffered at the hands of Pacquiao, Hatton can now rest easy after the Filipino suffered the same fate in the hands of Mexican archrival Juan Manuel Marquez.
Three years after he left Hatton unconscious in the squared circle, Pacquiao got a dose of his own medicine in his fourth meeting with Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In a bizarre ending that left his fans flabbergasted, Pacquiao was pummeling a bloodied and reeling Marquez in the sixth round when he walked into a huge counter right from the Mexican.
Like a condemned building hit by the wrecking ball at full force, Pacquiao crashed into the canvas face-first with a resounding thud. Like Hatton, Pacquiao found himself falling prey to a punch he never saw.
“After I saw that he was going to throw another one-two combination, I stepped to the right and threw the right hand,” said Marquez, who also scored a huge knockdown in the third round with a howitzer overhand right.
Pacquiao actually got off to a very good start, jabbing with his right hand and moving his head and shoulders well to dodge Marquez’s early right counters. It was the best form Pacquiao had shown since November 2009, when he stopped Miguel Angel Cotto in 12 rounds for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title. For a while, it looked as though the old Pacquiao was back.
After getting knocked down in the third round, Pacquiao returned the favor in the fifth round by also depositing Marquez to the canvas and bloodying the Mexican’s nose. Pacquiao was in complete control until the dying seconds of the sixth round when he got caught. Believe it or not, Marquez landed the knockout blow and finished off Pacquiao with one second left to go in the round. The official time of the stoppage was 2 minutes and 59 seconds of the round.
“I never expected the punch,” said Pacquiao. “That’s boxing. He got me with a good shot. I may have been overconfident.”
Pacquiao suffered his second straight loss this year. He dropped a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in June, a loss that cost him his WBO welterweight title. The debacle to Marquez is tougher to swallow, though. Pacquiao’s cloak of invincibility has been completely torn into shreds by the Mexican.
Pacquiao, 33, can walk away from the sport at this very minute with his legacy intact. Nobody can take away the unprecedented eight world titles he won and the thrilling victories he recorded against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Hatton. Then again, it is likely that Pacquiao will lace on the gloves again. Hatton retired after getting beaten up by Pacquiao, but he just can’t stay in the pasture and had to return to the ring again. In the case of Pacquiao, he immediately expressed his willingness to engage Marquez in another fight. You can say Pacquiao is itching to get back at Marquez because he was winning the fight when he got careless.
A fifth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez will happen because of the way the fight ended. Surely, Pacquiao doesn’t want his illustrious career to end with a whimper. On the other hand, you can already hear some boxing pundits implying that Marquez just caught Pacquiao with a lucky shot. It was not a lucky shot. Pacquiao has always been a sucker for Marquez’s counter right hand. The type of blow Marquez threw in the sixth round was a punch he had thrown several times in the three prior meetings with Pacquiao, only this time the punch emanated from a stronger, bulkier forearm. Marquez, who trained like a bodybuilder for the fight, clearly left no plate untouched in the gym.
A fifth fight will also happen because promoter Bob Arum can already smell millions of dollars this early. The fourth fight provided over-the-top excitement and injected new life in the rivalry instead of ending it as originally planned by Arum. “Why not (a fifth fight)? You have never seen a more exciting fight. This (fourth fight) will go down as a classic,” said Arum.
It will serve Pacquiao well to take a tune-up before facing Marquez again. More importantly, he will have to decide if he is still willing to commit himself totally to boxing. If he can, Pacquiao might still provide his career the glorious sendoff it deserves.
And perhaps, Hatton can learn a trick or two from Pacquiao on how to properly regroup in the sport.