Career futures diverge for Pacquiao and Hatton

By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Reuters) – Less than 24 hours after Manny Pacquiao’s stunning demolition of IBO light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, the two fighters looked ahead towards vastly different futures on Sunday.

While Pacquiao can probably size up a lucrative bout with American Floyd Mayweather Jr. after cementing his status as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, Briton Hatton is likely to be considering his retirement.

Pacquiao had been a clear favourite going into the hotly anticipated fight between two 30-year-olds – a 12-round contest that promised an intriguing match-up between the Filipino’s lightning speed and the Englishman’s raw power.

Most pundits predicted a Pacquiao victory but the Asian southpaw’s trainer Freddie Roach proved to be much more accurate with his forecast for a decision inside three rounds.

‘Pac-man’ Pacquiao duly delivered, twice flooring Hatton in the opening round before silencing the Briton’s army of supporters with a devastating left hook and a knockout with one second left in round two.

“Manny’s unbelievable,” Roach told reporters after Pacquiao improved his career record to 49-3-2 with 37 knockouts. “He makes me look good.

“He’s the best fighter in the world. He’s in his prime and he’s on top of his game. Anyone in the world, he can beat.”

The undefeated Mayweather Jr., who announced on Saturday he would come out of retirement, will meet Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez in a non-title welterweight fight on July 18.

POSSIBLE MATCHUPS
The winner would be a natural opponent for Pacquiao but Roach instead singled out possible match-ups with WBA welterweight champion Shane Mosley and WBO holder Miguel Cotto.

“I think he (Mayweather) is scared of Pacquiao,” Roach said. “If Cotto wants to come down a few pounds or if Shane Mosley wants to come down a few pounds, we can make that happen.”

Hatton, who had never previously lost at his natural weight of 140 pounds, was left flat on his back for several minutes at the end of Saturday’s fight before being helped on to his feet.

The 30-year-old was taken to hospital to have a precautionary brain scan which, according to his father Ray, revealed no damage.

“He’s perfectly all right,” Ray Hatton told BBC Radio Five on Sunday. “They’ve checked him out. He’s had all the tests and everything and he’s not got a mark on him.”

Asked about his son’s likely future in boxing, Hatton replied: “We will support him in whatever he does and we’ll leave that with him.”

Shortly after the much-hyped bout had ended with Pacquiao’s stunning left hook to Hatton’s jaw, the Englishman’s assistant trainer Lee Beard said there would be no rushed career decision.

“The one and only focus right now is Ricky’s health,” Beard told reporters. “Only he can make that decision and it’s all about what he wants to do.”

Hatton, whose only other defeat was a 10th-round knockout by Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas in December 2007, has a career record of 45-2 with 32 knockouts.

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