RICKY SAYS SORRY TO FANS
Ricky Hatton suffered a devastating defeat against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, a defeat that could end his outstanding career.
‘The Hitman’ was stopped for only the second time in 47 fights and the boxing world was stunned to see him knocked out in the second round.
He was certainly the underdog going into the fight and on the night, Vegas bookmakers had Pacquiao 2-1 on to win by KO.
But many, not just his vast army of supporters, but top pundits, believed Ricky could turn the tables.
Even his former trainer, Billy Graham had said, “Ricky will beat Pacquiao easy!”
It was seen as a tough fight to call with Ricky having the advantage of natural size and strength facing a fighter renowned for his speed and skill. It was expected to be a terrific battle, it was not expected to end so decisively or so early.
It was a mouth-watering match between Hatton, the two weight, three times World champion and Pacquiao, the four weight, five times World champion, acknowledged as the best fighter in the world.
Ricky’s IBO and Ring Magazine belts were at stake and the coveted recognition as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
It was inevitably a sell-out, a battle for supremacy between the two most popular fighters on the planet. Some 25,000 fans followed Ricky halfway around the world, 5,000 attended the weigh-in!
As Johnny Nelson pointed out, “Ricky takes more to his weigh-in than I took to my fights”. Pacquiao has a whole country behind him! Seriously! When he fights there is a national holiday, there is no crime on the streets on the day he fights and incredibly, the government and rebel forces declare a ceasefire when he fights!”
It was a question of who was the greatest and the answer was – Floyd Mayweather Snr, at least according to Mayweather Snr.
Before the fight Ricky’s trainer maintained a constant barrage of bragging and hurled insults at Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach.
“I am the greatest of all time,” he declared modestly, “not this time, that time, part time, full time, but all time.”
But Ricky has never indulged in trash talking and, if the two had made an unlikely team before, by the time of the fight rumours abounded that the partnership was at an end.
There had apparently been disputes during training between Mayweather and assistant trainer, Lee Beard, and Mayweather had been criticised for not providing Ricky with southpaw pad work ahead of a fight with one of the world’s most dangerous southpaws.
Of course, whether or not the trainer gets the sack could now be irrelevant, with Ricky teetering on the edge of retirement.
Ricky had entered the ring flanked by brother, Matthew, fresh from his own victory earlier, and Lee Beard’s stepson, Adrian Gonzalez.
James Bowes was waiting in the ring with the likes of Tom Jones and boxing royalty, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins.
He opened the fight confidently, moving forward, landing a left hook. Halfway through the second minute though he was holding, having felt Pacquiao’s power, which Roach had warned the Phillipino possessed in both hands.
Just inside the last minute of the round Ricky was dropped by a right hook. When he got to his feet he faced a flurry of accurate blows and this time was floored by lefts. With seconds of the round remaining, he was lucky to survive.
He walked onto the right repeatedly in the second round as Pacquiao took full advantage of his gaping defence, but he caught him with apparent ease with both hands.
It wasn’t simply a question of speed, Pacquiao, so fast and so accurate, was hurting him with every punch.
Eight seconds before the end of the round Ricky was poleaxed by a perfect left hook.
He fell to the canvas, his head bouncing sickeningly as he hit the ground where he lay gasping, his eyes unfocussed for several distressing minutes.
When he had fully regained consciousness he said, “I’m alright. I lost to a great fighter. I didn’t see the punch.” He was then helped from the same ring where he had been knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jnr 17 months ago.
The ‘Legend Slayer’ had done it again. Pacquiao had already left a trail of fallen idols in his wake, Barrera, De La Hoya, Morales, Marquez.
Now he had done it again but in such a way as to leave audiences in Vegas and around the world stunned. Even Pacquiao was surprised: “I didn’t expect such an easy fight but we were very confident I could knock him out early.”
Veteran sportswriter, Colin Hart said: “Ricky Hatton’s career is over. He’s made a fortune, there’s no point in going on.”
But Ricky himself could not say if this $8 million payday would be his last, “I can’t make any decisions at the minute, my head’s still in bits. I don’t want to make any rash decisions. I’m absolutely devastated,” he said on his website, Hattonboxing.tv “I didn’t think I could cry any more than I did after the Mayweather fight.” But he reassured everyone that he was fine following the fright in the ring, “Physically I’ve felt a lot, lot worse when I’ve had 12 round distance fights. It was all over so quick.
“He caught me and there’s nothing you can do. If I’d had a few rounds maybe I could have won. I did quite well in the second round, because I hadn’t recovered from the first round. Maybe I jumped on him a little too quick, but that’s Ricky Hatton.”
There was immediate speculation about a clash of the greatest between Pacquiao and Mayweather Jnr, who chose to officially come out of retirement just hours before Saturday’s fight.
Meanwhile, for Ricky retiring from the ring, will not mean retiring from boxing. Among other things, Ricky’s gym in Hyde is due to open and he is now a promoter: “I can be the best promoter in the world, not just the best boxer.
“It doesn’t all end here. I think I’m still going to be a big noise in boxing whatever I decide to do”
He also had a message for his fans: “I’m sorry. I’m not saying I’m the greatest British boxer ever, but nobody has ever had support like Ricky Hatton.
“That’s a fact and I’ll be forever grateful to everyone.”
It sounds like a farewell speech doesn’t it but will ‘The Hitman’ be able to come to terms with going out on a loss?