Cusp of Greatness

Pacquiao sends Hatton crashing to the canvas
Pacquiao sends Hatton crashing to the canvas
By John Lumpkin: Last Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao, the consensus pound for pound champion, obliterated Ricky Hatton. Going into the fight, most of us were at least somewhat uncertain as to what the outcome would be. It was not an easy fight to pick because there was such a disparity in relative weights which these two fighters spent the bulk of their career and there was every possibility that Pacquiao was reaching too high up the scale.

Ricky Hatton is a very good fighter with a lot of skills, but Pacquiao reminded us of what the difference is between a solid champion and legend in the making. The ironic thing is that Pacquiao’s accession to this status stems from a loss he suffered at the hands of Erik Morales. Up until the point he fought Morales, Pacquiao had been able to get by on his natural gifts of speed and his overwhelmingly powerful left hand. Morales showed Pacquiao that a world class fighter with a good strategy can take away a limited tool set and exposed deficiencies. It is a lesson that Hatton did not grasp until it was too late. It takes more than a few fights to eradicate years of habits.

Earlier that day, we received confirmation that Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated fighter and previous consensus pound for pound champion was returning to the ring to face the current number two on the pound for pound list, Juan Manuel Marquez. Should this fight come to fruition in conjunction with the logical follow-up fight with Pacquiao for the winner, boxing will have this era’s version Leonard – Hagler –Hearns. It is an opportunity to see the most skilled and decorated champions of an era square off against one another.

Some may scoff at Mayweahter’s choice to return to the ring at this time. We were all somewhat disappointed when he seemingly intentionally avoided some of the more challenging matchups as he marched his way towards financial freedom and fame. Had he stopped along the way to face some stiffer challenges, we would probably hold him in higher regard, but none of those fighters could give Mayweather the chance he has now. If he can come back and score victories against both Marquez and Pacquiao, few will doubt his claim of greatness. It is a chance for all of these fighters to have their name mentioned in the same sentence as Robinson and Leonard. It is not something that happens very often and boxing will be the victor for it.

May 5, 2009


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