As you've surely heard by now, negotiations have crumbled for a megafight showdown between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, with Pacquiao not budging over money even though Hatton was willing to take a couple steps back.
This fight, if truly off (and you never know), is a missed opportunity. But when a door closes, a window can open. So let's live with it, move on, and be optimistic.
Who else could these guys fight?
The reigning pound-for-pound king's win over Oscar de la Hoya is now a memory, which might seem harsh given that it happened less than two months ago, but sports are a fast business nowadays, and boxing is no different. It's not exactly a "what have you done for me lately?" thing, since Pacquiao has done nothing but shine for years now, but we crave what's next. Hatton seemed a perfect fit. Without Hatton, there are still a lot of intriguing fights.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.: He's always an option, and it's a big fight. The Pacquiao lawyers and advisers will have to be ready to take a couple steps back in the purse split to lure Floyd into the ring, though. I also don't know how big this fight would be -- big, obviously, but huge? Huge for us, of course, but with normal folk? Floyd has done massive buyrates against Oscar and Hatton. Everyone does big with Oscar, and Floyd-Ricky was a meeting of two unbeaten fighters whose personalities clashed perfectly outside of the ring. I believe if Mayweather had stayed in the sport, he was really just scratching the surface of the crossover star he could have been. Right now, I don't think he's the star he was when he left.
Antonio Margarito: Yeesh. Big, powerful guy. No problems pulling the trigger. No problems chasing a guy around the ring. No stamina issues. No chin issues. Pacquiao seems to be pushing for this, feeling he can outbox Margarito. I have no doubt that he can -- I also have no doubt that Margarito would brutalize him when he caught him, and I don't know how many attacks Pacquiao could take from the Tornado. Wanting this fight shows just how gigantic Pacquiao's cojones are.
It's an interesting fight from any number of angles. First off, would Pacquiao split with Freddie Roach to take this fight? The way Roach talks about the matchup, he might have to. Freddie is a guy with great concern for his fighters, and Pacquiao is like one of his kids. From day one, Roach was on board for a fight with Oscar. He's one of the guys that pushed hardest for it to be made. And since that fight ended, from the first person to bring up Margarito-Pacquiao, Roach has said no.
Another thing to think about is Margarito's position for a possible fight like this, should he get past Shane Mosley on Saturday. Margarito was maybe the most vocal critic of Oscar-Manny going in. He called Oscar a coward for fighting such a small man. The small man proved he could whip Oscar, but I think we all know the difference between Oscar and Margarito nowadays, you know? If he fights Pacquiao instead of Cotto or Clottey or Williams or whoever, does that mean Margarito is nothing but a money-grubbing exhibitionist, too?
Edwin Valero: "Sharing of revenue doesn't matter with the economy nowadays. It's the guarantee that counts. Manny's guarantee is almost triple of what Hatton will get. It's a fight we don't want to miss out on because if we don't fight Hatton, we're going to fight Valero for $2 million. We're talking about a $15 million fight here." -- Freddie Roach
Pacquiao will scorch Valero. It won't be close.
Miguel Cotto: This fight has come up, but it would seem to me that Margarito is in the driver's seat in this triangle. If he beats Mosley, he'll have options. A rematch with Cotto is one. A big fight with Pacquiao is another. Either seem more likely to be really big than Pacquiao-Cotto does.
Juan Manuel Marquez: Should Marquez beat Juan Diaz on Feb. 28, you know he goes right back to calling out Pacquiao again. He thinks he's beaten him twice. He thinks he can beat him now. Honestly, the more time goes by, the less likely I think we are to see Marquez get an official W over Manny Pacquiao, but he is without question Pacquiao's greatest foe to date. In recent years, Pacquiao has trampled Oscar Larios, Erik Morales, Jorge Solis, Marco Antonio Barrera, David Diaz and Oscar de la Hoya. In the middle of that is Marquez, who took Pacquiao to the limit for the second time. When I dig past all the crap in my brain and get right down to what I want to see as a fan, it's Pacquiao-Marquez III.
Longtime 140-pound champion Ricky Hatton sort of needed the Pacquiao fight. While Ricky is certainly beloved in his home country and, yes, in America, too, there remains that doubt Stateside that Hatton is really one of the best. I have that doubt, and I'm a big Ricky Hatton fan. Beating a prime Pacquiao would have been by far the biggest win of his career, which is currently a win over a fading Kostya Tszyu.
(Pre-emptive note to fellow Hatton fans: I am not saying Tszyu was washed-up when he fought Hatton, but he was certainly past his prime. I don't think he was as faded as many make him out to be. He was in the fight.)
Rematch with Floyd: Hey, Ricky wants it, Floyd seems agreeable when asked about it, and now the "Hitman" is trained by the "Money" man's pops. The "24/7" series writes itself, doesn't it? Hatton wants to do the fight in England, and really seems fixated on staying in England no matter who he fights. He's also targeting a group of guys that all seem like they'd do it, even the semi-cantankerous, very egotistical Mayweather. Floyd knows there's money over there. And Floyd loves to play the bad guy, too, so I think he'd revel in the chance to walk the aisle at Wembley or City of Manchester Stadium.
It's not a fight that cries out for a rematch, in my estimation. I thought by the later rounds you could obviously see that Floyd was on a different level than Hatton the first go-'round. But it was exciting. It was wonderfully memorable. It was an atmosphere unlike few others. Mayweather-Hatton, in my opinion, was the event of this decade. There were bigger fights in terms of money, but none of them had the spirit and the big fight zest and the loud passion of that one. I'd welcome Mayweather-Hatton II, even if I think we see the same thing the second time around.
Oscar de la Hoya: Oscar isn't going to go out with that Pacquiao fight. The problem with this one is I don't know who's interested in watching Oscar fight again. He'll always have his fans, but the overwhelming call of fans and media and everyone was for Oscar to retire after the Pacquiao fight. Hatton is a pressure fighter, a bully fighter, and he loves going to the body. Can Oscar handle that at 147 pounds? Pacquiao pulverized him. Hatton is no stud at 147, either, but Oscar looked positively awful. I don't like this fight personally, because I still have no desire to ever see Oscar fight again. He can mug to the camera and say "This time it's for serious, and here's my new trainer!" and I'm just not going to care one bit. I had a hard enough time with his fake mean faces for Pacquiao.
Marquez-Diaz winner: A fight with Juan Diaz could be spectacular for those of us that like rough, fast, inside fighting. This is a fight I've wanted to see for a while, when Diaz was dominating at 135, beating the crap out of guys like Popo Freitas and Julio Diaz, with clearly enough of a body to move up five more pounds. If Marquez wins, I'm not sure how much I want to see Hatton-Marquez. It's a fight between two legit world champions (Hatton-Diaz would be, if Diaz beat Marquez) and two stars and two fighters I like, but it somehow lacks sizzle. Maybe just because I've never really considered the idea before now, I don't know.
It's yet to be seen if Hatton-Pacquiao is REALLY off, too. Some are speculating that Oscar's sudden interest in fighting on against Hatton is a ploy to get Pacquiao back negotiating for a fight with Ricky, and lots of big fights get called off only for cooler heads to prevail. Oscar-Manny and Margarito-Mosley have both been off the table recently before getting finished. Right now it's a waiting game, and the world keeps spinning.