It's been nearly four months now since Manny Pacquiao ended what was then going to be the biggest fight of 2009 in less than six minutes of action. And no matter how many times I watch the video of the fight, I never cease to be amazed by how easy Manny made it look.
That night, the Filipino living legend not only outquicked and outboxed Manchester's favorite son, but he did so in a brutal fashion that left no questions whatsoever. Five months earlier, Pacquiao had stunned the boxing world by beating Oscar de la Hoya so thoroughly that "The Golden Boy" quit on his stool after eight rounds of action, so hopelessly out of the contest that there was no need to go on.
Oscar couldn't touch Pacquiao that night. Hatton never really got a chance to even try.
Oscar de la Hoya retired after what Manny Pacquiao did to him. It remains to be seen whether or not Ricky Hatton will fight again.
What we do know, though, is that both were fights that Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, quickly agreed to. In fact, the win over Oscar was barely in the books before talk of Pacquiao and Hatton on May 2, 2009 began. After some rough patches in the negotiation process, that fight came off, and now it's history.
Freddie took the Oscar fight when people said it was crazy because he saw that Oscar de la Hoya couldn't pull the trigger anymore, and I think he also knew from training Oscar that there was no way that de la Hoya was going to comfortably make 147 pounds.
Freddie took the fight with Hatton because he saw a vulnerable, limited fighter -- a very good fighter, good at what he does, yes, but so tailor made for Pacquiao that Roach knew Hatton had no chance to beat his guy.
But what about Miguel Cotto? Roach has backed off from the idea of fighting a pre-disgraced Antonio Margarito, because he plainly said, "Margarito is too big." He wanted Shane Mosley to boil down to 143 pounds. And he's made Cotto come down to 145.
Why is that?
It's because Pacquiao, great as he is, is not invincible. And Freddie knows it. You can easily say that Oscar and Hatton -- great challenges on paper -- were hand-picked by the mad scientist because he knew they'd garner huge attention, make a global superstar of Pacquiao, and make both he and his fighter a lot of money. Roach doesn't seem quite so confident now. The problem he's facing is simple: Manny's beaten two straight huge-name guys and done so in a manner that left the boxing world in awe.
And now, the fans will not accept anything less than the biggest and best challenges for Pacquiao. But Freddie is looking to give his guy the advantage. It's good business. Roach is very, very smart. I also mean to take nothing away from Manny Pacquiao. He'll be the favorite against Cotto because he's earned that right and then some.
But there's one thing Cotto can do to potentially turn the tide in a big way: Hit Manny Pacquiao. Hit him. There were brief moments in both of Pacquiao's dominant last two fights when he was hit by Oscar and Hatton and I thought it was very clear that he felt those shots coming from the two biggest men he'd ever faced. What Pacquiao did brilliantly was slow Oscar to flat-out immobility, and just blitz out Hatton with a beautiful right hook that eventually set up the jaw-crushing overhand left that ended the fight.
The question is still there: Can Pacquiao handle the power of a full-fledged welterweight? Cotto is not a big welterweight by any means. In fact, he's a small welterweight. He and Pacquiao are pretty much the exact same size. But he's been able to bang away at guys like Mosley, Margarito and Clottey, and while he stopped none of them and really never had any of them in grave danger, I don't think any of them will tell you it's an easy night getting hit by Cotto. And all three of those guys are much bigger than Manny.
The more a Manny win by wham-bam stoppage is predicted, the more I think we're going to see Pacquiao get into some real trouble against the supposedly "damaged" Miguel Cotto. And in turn, the more excited I get for this fight.
For those that maybe never did see it or just want to relive it, here are HBO's highlights from Hatton-Pacquiao -- and no, they don't cut much out: