Ricky Hatton v Manny Pacquiao: Betting thoughts on the big fight from Richard Douglas
A date has been set for the Pacquaio-Hatton mega bout and the early odds suggest it's win for the Filipino. But what does Mr Douglas make of it all...
Perhaps the biggest danger to the boxing punter is placing too much emphasis on his fighter's last bout.
However, given that recent history often makes the match in the first place, these bouts are the basis of the pre-fight hype. And who has not fallen for that in the past?
Take Ricky Hatton ([2.96]) v Manny Pacquiao ([1.46]) for example. This mega-fight was finally inked this week for May 2 in Las Vegas. With Floyd Mayweather and Joe Calzaghe now retired, this is perhaps the closest we'll get to a pound-for-pound decider in the next couple of years.
Both ended 2008 with stunning, career-affirming victories. Pacquiao, who won his first title at flyweight, was expect to lose to Oscar de la Hoya. The latter was boiling down to welterweight having won world titles up at middleweight.
The Golden Boy would be just too darn big, they said. In fight he was too darn small. De la Hoya would have forfeited millions had he not made weight and so he did - but at some cost. He was a shell of a fighter on the night.
The post-fight stats tell a terrible tale. Pacquiao landed 224 out of a total of 585 punches (38 per cent) to De La Hoya's 83/402 (21 per cent). But when it came to power punches the Filipino connected with 195/333 (59 per cent) to De la Hoya's 51/164 (31 per cent). Pacquiao's accuracy in power shots never dipped below 50 per cent in any round and, in the fourth, rose to an incredible 68.
By round seven he was entirely in control. He threw 103 punches, connecting with 47. But 45 of those were power punches. He was basically beating up De La Hoya. The Californian did not answer the bell for the ninth.
Hatton was expected to beat the slick but limited Paulie Malignaggi. The American's jab was always his most potent weapon but, in the realms of elite boxing, the New Yorker cannot crack eggs. However Hatton's pressure meant he never had a chance. Malignaggi averaged 40.5 jabs per round in his comprehensive win against Lovemore N'dou but only 19 against Hatton. The Englishman landed 99 out of 377 power punches, or 26 per cent. Malignaggi connected with a quarter of that.
Basically, Hatton did what Hatton does - swarm, pressure, hurt. Whether he can do that against Pacquiao remains a very different question. Pac-man is a clever, mobile southpaw who possesses the ability to keep the Hitman off balance all night. Although smaller than Malignaggi, he has a harder punch and therefore Hatton will not be able to stand within range firing in body shots at will.
Although the Manchester fighter has struggled against southpaws in the past he has always found a way to win. In addition, that bamboozling defeat to Floyd Mayweather Junior came seven pounds heavier at welterweight. He has never lost at light-welter, his natural weight.
In one of those strange quirks of fate, Hatton took on Floyd Mayweather Senior as his trainer for the first time against Malignaggi. The veteran tried to keep the best of the brawling Briton but added some defensive nous. On the night the old dog did seemed to have learnt a new trick or two.
There is a feeling that eventually Hatton's between-fight bloating will eventually catch him out in the ring. This could be the night and if you fancy that Pacqiuao by KO, TKO or DQ should be tempting at [2.72].
However, for the weighty talk ahead of Pacqiuao's bout with De la Hoya, size differential will be much more important against Hatton. Alarm bells were ringing when Oscar came in at 145lbs last time out, 2lbs below the welterweight limit. But they were clanging like the clappers when he only put on 2lbs between the weigh-in and the fight.
Hatton has rarely had problems making light-welterweight and will surely pile on the best part of a stone by the time he gets in the ring just after May Day. If he is a good Big Un on the night he will beat the Lil Un, no matter how good Pacquiao can be. Hatton is [3.8] to win by stoppage.
That said, this little man has defied the odds consistently. He has mastered three ring legends - Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and De la Hoya. Hatton is not considered in that class and will never get there unless he wins this fight.
This will not only be a contest between two great fighters, it will also be a great fight. Both men are aggressive, brave boxers who will look to dominate the other.
A trade paper recently asked 28 fighters, trainers, managers and promoters for their view. The result was 14-14. However it was interesting to see the more analytical respondents - trainers like Brendan Ingle, Robert McCracken and Enzo Calzaghe plus managers like Frank Warren and Mick Hennessey - all go for Pacquiao. The boxers tended to go for the Hitman.
Perhaps it was loyalty. Perhaps it was the sense of desire a new trainer has rekindled in the Hitman. Whatever, boxing will find an answer. The sport has thrown up many recent shocks - Pacquiao stopping De la Hoya, Mosley crushing Margarito, Hopkins pummelling Pavlik.
This is capable of being another but, with so long to go, watch the build-up carefully for clues. The markets may move.