Commentary

Pacquiao silences Hatton fans, Floyd Sr.

Originally Published: May 4, 2009
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Las Vegas
Junior welterweight
Manny Pacquiao KO2 Ricky Hatton
Wins world junior welterweight title
Records: Pacquiao, 49-3-2, 37 KOs; Hatton, 45-2, 32 KOs

Rafael's remark: Pacquiao is the king. He now is to boxing what LeBron James is to the NBA, what Tiger Woods is to golf. You get the picture. There is no doubt, especially after his utterly dominant and pulverizing knockout victory of Hatton to win the junior welterweight world championship. The pound-for-pound king not only cemented his status as the No. 1 fighter in the world, but he also went into the boxing record books. Here are the stats: He won a world championship in his sixth weight class to match Oscar De La Hoya's record. He now has won titles at flyweight (112 pounds), junior featherweight (122), featherweight (126), junior lightweight (130), lightweight (135) and junior welterweight (140). He also became the first fighter in boxing history to earn recognition as the lineal champion (the people's champion or the man who beat the man who beat the man or the real champion -- however you want to categorize it) in four divisions (112, 126, 130, 140). Further, it was Pacquiao's fourth win in a row in a different division (130, 135, 147, 140). He jumped up to welterweight in December and sent De La Hoya into retirement before dropping down for his first fight at 140 pounds, where Hatton had reigned as king for the past several years. But he proved no match for Pacquiao.

The PacMan simply ran roughshod over England's Hatton, who had brought an estimated 25,000 Brits to Las Vegas for the fight, many of whom didn't have tickets to the sold-out arena (16,262) but just wanted to be in town for the spectacular atmosphere of a big fight. No fighter travels his fans better than Hatton, and no fighter leaves his fans more disappointed in a big spot than Hatton. Many of those fans also had crossed the pond in 2007 to see Hatton get knocked out by then-No. 1 fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight title fight in the same MGM Grand ring. But Pacquiao didn't need the 10 rounds Mayweather did. Pacquiao took him out in less than two rounds in a ruthless performance.

Under trainer Freddie Roach, who predicted a stoppage win for Pacquiao inside three rounds, Pacquiao has become a two-handed fighter. He used to be nothing but a left-handed fighter. Now, the blazing fast southpaw is a two-fisted machine. His right hook scored the first knockdown in the opening round, and Hatton was done after that. A second knockdown followed with a left hand. Then late in the second round, which Pacquiao was dominating, he landed a left cross that might be one of the greatest knockout punches ever in a big fight. The shot caught Hatton square on the jaw, and he was out before he hit the canvas. Upon impact, Hatton's head smashed the mat in a brutal scene. Referee Kenny Bayless, who is one of the best, didn't bother to count. Hatton was motionless in the center of the ring and needed medical attention after what is so far the clear knockout of the year.

Hatton had a great run, winning titles in two divisions, making tens of millions of dollars and drawing some of the greatest crowds in boxing. But his run at the top looks like it's over. Maybe he will fight again, but it's clear he never again will be on this level. If he does fight again, you can bank on trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. being fired. The self-anointed greatest trainer in the world talked the talk and insulted Roach at every turn, but when it was go time, he crapped out and deserves to take his share of the blame for the loss.

As for Pacquiao, he rules boxing in the post-De La Hoya era. The fight the world wants to see is him against Floyd Mayweather Jr., who announced his unretirement hours before this fight. He'll take on old Pacquiao rival Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18. The winner, especially if it's Mayweather, against Pacquiao will be by far the biggest fight in boxing. It will happen eventually, because the money is just too great for it not to happen.

Junior lightweight
Humberto Soto TKO9 Benoit Gaudet
Retains a junior lightweight title
Records: Soto, 48-7-2, 31 KOs; Gaudet, 20-2, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: The way Soto ended this fight made up for the lack of action before the big knockout. But the lack of action wasn't Soto's fault. It was Gaudet's; the 2004 Canadian Olympian was on the defensive and running almost from the outset. Soto knocked him down with a tremendous left hand 30 seconds into the fight and put him on the defensive. Gaudet, 29, regrouped but had nothing to offer offensively. So Mexico's Soto, 28, stalked him until finally knocking him down twice in the ninth round. They both were hard knockdowns, so after the second one, when Gaudet had zero chance to win, referee Jay Nady mercifully called off the fight. It was a solid win for Soto, who was not originally intended to fight on the card. He defended his title for the first time March 28 by knocking out Antonio Davis in the fourth round on a Top Rank PPV show. But when featherweight titlist Steven Luevano pulled out of his co-featured fight on this undercard because of a back injury, Top Rank brought Soto right back. Soto is the class of the 130-pound division, but there are no really significant fights for him, so he probably will need to go to lightweight, where a fight against Top Rank stablemate and titleholder Edwin Valero sure would be exciting.

Middleweight
Daniel Jacobs W8 Michael Walker
Scores: 80-72 (twice), 79-73
Records: Jacobs, 16-0, 14 KOs; Walker, 19-2-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: For the first 14 fights of Jacobs' career, the former amateur standout from Brooklyn, N.Y., was matched very softly by Golden Boy. But then he took a solid step up against Jose Varela on April 24 and knocked him out cold in two rounds on ESPN2. When junior middleweight contender James Kirkland, a convicted felon on probation, landed in a Texas jail after being charged with possession of a firearm, he was scratched from his fight with Walker, 30, and Jacobs quickly was added to the show. So eight days after smashing Varela, Jacobs, 22, was right back in the ring, taking a significant step up in competition. Once again, he passed with flying colors. Walker has a great chin, so his going the distance in the lopsided fight was no surprise. But Jacobs got in much-needed rounds and continued on his path to possible stardom. Good performance, especially under the circumstances.

Middleweight
Matvey Korobov TKO2 Anthony Bartinelli
Records: Korobov, 5-0, 5 KOs; Bartinelli, 20-13-2, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: Korobov is one exciting prospect. The 26-year-old 2008 Russian Olympian has looked outstanding since turning pro in November. He is just so darn strong and has such fast hands. Top Rank is going to move him quickly because he is a little older and has a vast amateur background. Bartinelli, a tough, game guy, simply had no prayer, even though he fought his heart out. Bartinelli took the fight on a few days' notice when Rodrigo Aguiar fell out. But Bartinelli could have had a year's notice and it would have made no difference. Korobov, in his first fight since parting with trainer Dan Birmingham and having his father, George Korobov, take over the corner, battered Bartinelli. The southpaw dished out huge punishment in the first round with shots from both hands that rocked Bartinelli's head back and forth like he was a cartoon character. In the second round, Korobov knocked him down with a fast straight left hand and was teeing off on him during a follow-up attack when referee Robert Byrd saved him. Korobov will be right back in action on the June 13 Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey undercard at New York's Madison Square Garden. If you could buy stock in a fighter, Korobov's would be right there at the top of the order.

Junior middleweight
Erislandy Lara W4 Chris Gray
Scores: 40-36 (three times)
Records: Lara, 5-0, 3 KOs; Gray, 11-8, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Lara was one of the many terrific Cuban amateur standouts, having won the 2005 world amateur championship. The southpaw would have been the gold-medal favorite at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he didn't compete. In 2007, he tried to defect during the Pan American Games in Brazil, got caught, was kicked off the team and was sent back to Cuba. Eventually, he did defect and now is in America, signed with Golden Boy Promotions and Arena Box and managed by Shelly Finkel and Luis DeCubas Jr. He has the team behind him and the talent to go a long way and do so quickly. Gray is an awkward opponent and hard to look good against, so Lara didn't show any of the explosiveness he has shown in some of his other pro fights, but he still won easily and was never threatened. It was a big week for Lara. Besides a televised fight on a huge card, he also got married Thursday in a Las Vegas chapel.

Junior welterweight
Mike Alvarado W8 Juaquin Gallardo
Scores: 80-71 (twice), 79-72
Records: Alvarado, 26-0, 18 KOs; Gallardo, 18-8-1, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Denver's Alvarado, 28, turned in a solid performance against the game Gallardo to earn his way into an important fight. With the win in the bank and former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi having won a fight April 25, the stage is set for Alvarado to face Malignaggi on June 27 in Atlantic City, N.J., on the Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Mora Top Rank PPV undercard. Alvarado dropped Gallardo, 32, with a flush overhand right to the chin in the second round, but Gallardo is tough. Although Alvarado was on the attack most of the fight, he couldn't finish him. But he won easily despite some swelling under his left eye. Gallardo lost for the fourth time in five fights.

Bantamweight
Abner Mares TKO6 Jonathan Perez
Records: Mares, 18-0, 11 KOs; Perez, 14-6, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Welcome back to Mares, the 23-year-old 2004 Mexican Olympian. As one of Golden Boy's prized prospects, he was on the verge of a title shot last year. He had been looking good and was slated to fight in October on the Bernard Hopkins-Kelly Pavlik undercard when he suffered a retina injury in his left eye while training. He was scratched from the show and his career was in doubt. But he was cleared to return and fought for the first time since June 2008. Mares looked good in dismantling the tough Perez, 22, of Colombia. Although Perez didn't go down, he had taken a lot of heavy shots when his corner stopped the fight after the sixth round. It was Perez's sixth loss in his past eight fights. Hopefully, Mares' eye comes out of the fight OK so he can resume a busy schedule and regain his form.

Featherweight
Bernabe Concepcion W6 Yogli Herrera
Records: Concepcion, 29-1-1, 17 KOs; Herrera, 21-9, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Trainer Freddie Roach went 2-for-2 on the card. Besides the huge win in the main event, one of his other Filipino fighters, Concepcion, easily defeated Herrera with a workmanlike effort. Concepcion, 21, won every round and closed the Colombian's left eye by battering it repeatedly. Concepcion originally was scheduled to challenge featherweight titlist Steven Luevano in the pay-per-view co-feature. However, Luevano suffered a back injury and the fight was called off. Top Rank kept Concepcion on the card but in a lesser fight. When Luevano recovers, Top Rank probably will reschedule the bout.

Saturday at Bremen, Germany
Bantamweight
Anselmo Moreno W12 Wladimir Sidorenko
Retains a bantamweight title
Scores: 115-112, 115-114 Moreno, 115-113 Sidorenko
Records: Moreno, 25-1-1, 8 KOs; Sidorenko, 21-2-2, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: In May 2008, Panama's Moreno did something extremely difficult: He went to Germany and won a title on a decision against Sidorenko, the house fighter. Now, making his third defense, Moreno, 23, returned to Germany for a rematch with Sidorenko, who hadn't fought since their first encounter. Moreno won again but this time on a split decision. Wonders will never cease. Sidorenko pressed the action in the first half of the fight, but then Moreno picked up the pace and was landing more as he raised a mouse under Sidorenko's right eye in the ninth round.

Friday at Las Vegas
Lightweight
Urbano Antillon TKO5 Tyrone Harris
Records: Antillon, 26-0, 19 KOs; Harris, 23-5, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Antillon is one of the more exciting lightweights and continues to draw near a title opportunity. Headlining on Azteca America, Antillon, 26, took care of Harris, 28, when he dropped him twice in the fifth round before referee Tony Weeks called it off. Antillon certainly was ready to go for this fight after spending time in Manny Pacquiao's training camp as one of his sparring partners while PacMan prepared for the fight with Ricky Hatton.

Welterweight
Alfonso Gomez TKO8 Juan Buendia
Records: Gomez, 19-4-2, 9 KOs; Buendia, 14-3-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Gomez, the 28-year-old star of the first season of "The Contender," hadn't fought since being thoroughly dominated en route to a fifth-round knockout loss to Miguel Cotto in a welterweight title fight in April 2008. Now with Top Rank after cutting ties with Tournament of Contenders, Gomez returned to action. And action it was. Both men were cut by accidental head clashes in the action fight. As the blood flowed, Gomez dropped Buendia with a left hook to the body. Although he made it to his feet, he made it clear to the referee he didn't want to continue and the fight was called off. Buendia, 28, lost his second in a row and fell to 1-3-1 with a no contest in his past six fights. Gomez could loom as a future opponent for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a fight that would unquestionably be exciting.

Friday at Santa Ynez, Calif.
Welterweight
Carlos Abregu TKO4 Irving Garcia
Records: Abregu, 27-0, 22 KOs; Garcia, 17-4-3, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Whatever money these guys made from their "ShoBox" main event, they deserve a bonus. What a fight. They both gave everything they had in a rousing slugfest that will be on the list of fights of the year as Abregu survived two knockdowns and Garcia also went down. Puerto Rico's Garcia, 30, the vastly more experienced fighter against quality competition, looked tremendous early when he dropped Argentina's Abregu, 25, with a flush right hand to the jaw in the first round. Abregu, who had former welterweight champion and countryman Carlos Baldomir working in his corner, went down to the seat of his pants and was hurt. But Abregu survived to set the stage for the wild second round, a round of the year candidate. For most of the round, Abregu was battering Garcia with abandon when out of nowhere, with about 45 seconds left in the round, Garcia landed a desperation right hand that rocked Abregu and sent him reeling backwards and had him in trouble. In the fourth, Garcia dropped Abregu again with a terrific left hook. Abregu was in deep trouble, but he dug down and unleashed a flurry before finally flooring Garcia with an uppercut. Garcia came to rest leaning against a corner pole with blood streaming down his face when referee Jack Reiss called it off. Great stuff.

Lightweight
Marvin Quintero W8 Wes Ferguson
Scores: 79-73, 78-74 (twice)
Records: Quintero, 16-1, 12 KOs; Ferguson, 20-4-1, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the "ShoBox" opener, Mexico's Quintero, 22, easily outpointed Ferguson, the 23-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr. protege, in an entertaining fight. Ferguson, a standout amateur who has not seen that success translate in the pro ranks, got in his licks, but Quintero, who sparred with Ricky Hatton, was more aggressive and a harder puncher. It was a solid victory for Quintero, who took another step up in competition following his January third-round knockout of Nick Casal. Although Quintero has been effective at lightweight, he is considering moving down to junior lightweight following this fight.

Featherweight
Gary Russell Jr. W4 Alvaro Muro
Scores: 40-35 (three times)
Records: Russell Jr., 3-0, 1 KO; Muro, 6-14, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Russell, 20, rolled to the lopsided victory. The 2008 U.S. Olympian, who turned pro in January, dropped Muro, 31, in the third round with a left hand and went on for the shutout decision. Manager Al Haymon will keep him busy with a roughly once-a-month fighting schedule.

Thursday at Panama City
Junior featherweight
Celestino Caballero W12 Jeffery Mathebula
Retains unified junior featherweight title
Scores: 116-112 Caballero (twice), 116-112 Mathebula
Records: Caballero, 32-2, 22 KOs; Mathebula, 22-2-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: Panama's Caballero was lucky to keep his unified belts after getting a definite run for his money from South African mandatory challenger Mathebula. Remember, this fight was originally scheduled to take place in Florida on Showtime, but that was before the government of Panama put up a lot more money to bring the bout home to help open the new Roberto Duran Arena, named after the nation's favorite boxing hero. Had Mathebula, 29, fought Caballero on neutral territory, there's a pretty good chance he would have left the ring with the belts. Caballero, 32, who was defending the unified belts for the first time since he knocked out Steve Molitor in the fourth round of their unification fight in November, started well by putting several early rounds in the bank. But with Caballero tiring and Mathebula hanging tough, the challenger came on in the second half of the fight to beat the fading Caballero to the punch. It should come as no surprise that two judges split along nationalistic lines, with Hector Afu of Panama giving it to Caballero and judge Deaon Dwarte of South Africa going with Mathebula. The tiebreaker was American Patricia Morse Jarman. It seems as though maybe it's time for Caballero, freakishly tall for a 122-pounder at 5-foot-11, to move up in weight after so much time draining himself to make 122. There has been talk of a step up to 126 pounds to face exciting interim beltholder Yuriorkis Gamboa on HBO or Showtime later in the year.

Thursday at Bangkok
Junior featherweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym TKO9 Rafael Hernandez
Wins a vacant interim junior featherweight title
Records: Kratingdaenggym, 38-1, 27 KOs; Hernandez, 11-3-1, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Fighting before his home crowd in Thailand, Kratingdaenggym wore down Venezuela's inexperienced Hernandez for the late stoppage. But here we go again. Kratingdaenggym claimed yet another ludicrous WBA belt. Maybe I sound like a broken record, but the WBA gives out title belts the way McDonald's gives out ketchup packets. With Kratingdaenggym's silly belt, the WBA recognizes three titleholders in the 122-pound division. There's unified "super champion" Celestino Caballero, who happened to defend his title on the same day. And there is "regular" titleholder Bernard Dunne. Throw in Kratingdaenggym's status, and that is three. What a disgusting joke. Anyone who takes the WBA seriously should be committed for a thorough mental exam.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.