One of the more picturesque knockouts of the 21st century took place in May 2009 when Manny Pacquiao put Ricky Hatton to sleep with a devastating left hand in the second round of their junior welterweight fight. Also floored twice in the first, Hatton was finished by a prime Pacquiao and sent into a three-year retirement. Just as that bout represented Pacquiao at his absolute best, it also symbolized the end of Hatton as a championship-level boxer.
But what if that wasn't an older Hatton? What if Pacquiao had to face the 2005 version of the British brawler who ravaged Kostya Tszyu over 12 one-sided rounds to ascend to the 140 pound throne? Would the fight have been any different or was 2009 Pacquiao simply too good and perhaps a bad style matchup to boot?
Hatton, in an article he wrote for the Manchester Evening News, doesn't guarantee that he would have beaten Pacquiao but claims it would have been much better.
Then came the defeat to Pacquiao. It is well-documented the issues I had in my training camp for that fight.
If I could turn back the clock I would have said, ‘Listen, I’m knackered. I need a week off.’
I’m not saying I would have beaten Pacquiao that night but I would have had a better crack of the whip.
In one of the biggest fights of your career, you don’t want to be thinking ‘what if.’
I can look back on the Mayweather fight and think I didn’t do too bad.
But with Pacquiao I will always wonder ‘what if he got me at my best?’ I think I could have beaten him in my Kostya Tszyu era – I honestly do.
Kostya was every bit as big a puncher as Manny and I was young, unbeaten and fresh. I didn’t have the miles on the clock and I could walk through walls against Kostya. I’d like to think I could have done that against Manny.
By the time I fought him I’d put a lot of miles on the clock. Of course, there is always the chance that with someone as reckless as me that I could still walk on to one of his shots.
I will concede that a fight against the 2005 Hatton would have been a more stern test for Pacquiao. I don't think that guy gets blown out in two. But 2009 Pacquiao was a pretty awesome boxer who combined crunching power with breathtaking speed. So while I agree that it's not as easy for Manny, I maintain that he would still emerge victorious.
What do you think? Does the Hatton who defeated Tszyu get the best of Pacquiao with his physicality? Or is Pacquiao to good for even a prime Hatton?