LAS VEGAS?IT WAS SHORT, SWIFT AND MERCILESS, and the end surprised Manny Pacquiao as much as it stunned Ricky Hatton into oblivion.
Finding the opening he had been looking for, Pacquiao threw a thunderous left hook from hell that found Hatton?s jaw with nine seconds left in the second round, sending the Briton flat on his back for several minutes, unconscious.
In just five minutes and 59 seconds, ?The Battle of East and West? on Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) was over.
Referee Kenny Bayless did not even bother to count as Pacquiao enhanced his best pound-for-pound-fighter reputation while wresting Hatton?s International Boxing Organization?s light welterweight crown.
Aside from clinching his fifth world title in as many divisions, Pacquiao enshrined himself as the only boxer who fought in four weight classes in four successive fights and won them all.
Pacquiao took away Juan Manuel Marquez?s World Boxing Council 130-pound title, snatched David Diaz?s 135-pound crown, and then stopped Oscar De La Hoya in a 147-pound nontitle duel last year.
It took only a short time for Pacquiao, who raised his record to 47-3-2 with 37 knockouts, to solve the Hatton puzzle, connecting on a right hook that first sent the Briton down with barely 51 seconds gone in the first round, to the surprise of 16,262 paying fans who filled MGM Grand Garden Arena to the rafters.
Hatton took the mandatory eight-count, but in no time Pacquiao was all over him again, nailing him with a right-left combination that put him down again near a corner.
?I was surprised that this [victory] was so easy, but I?ve worked hard in training camp since the beginning of March,? said Pacquiao, who also held the WBC flyweight and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight crowns.
Wide open for right hook
When the referee signaled the end of the bout, Pacquiao went to the corner to pray, then stood on the ropes to acknowledge the cheers of jubilant Filipinos.
?He was wide open for the right hook. I knew he would be looking for my left,? said Pacquiao, who was also acknowledged by the Ring Magazine as its featherweight champion in 2003.
?It?s nothing personal. I was just doing my job. This is as big for me as the De La Hoya win,? added Pacquiao, who climbed the ring at 148 lb after checking in at 138 during the weigh-in. Hatton fought at 152 after earlier weighing in at the welterweight limit of 140.
The devastating loss stunned the loud Briton fans, who were drowning the Filipinos? cheers by singing a modified version of Winter Wonderland, Hatton?s main cheer.
It was no Wonderland but Dreamland for Hatton, who stayed almost motionless on his back for a few minutes while being attended to by two ring physicians. He eventually got up on wobbly feet and left the ring assisted by his seconds.
As a precautionary measure, Hatton was taken to Valley Hospital, accompanied by members of his family and De La Hoya.
$12-M purse guaranteed
Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive officer, revealed during the post-fight conference that Hatton?s safety was their primary concern so he was taken to the hospital.
?It was a hard loss, but I?m OK,? Hatton said later. ?I didn?t really see the punch coming, but it was a great shot.?
Pacquiao was guaranteed $12 million and Hatton $8 million outside of the pay-per-view and gate receipts.
It was the third straight time that Pacquiao finished a fight without a mark on his face. He also ended up unscathed against Diaz and De La Hoya.
And, the frightening thing, according to Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum, was the fact that Pacquiao was still getting better.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao?s chief trainer, was also in awe and said it?s but natural that his prized ward should fight the winner of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez clash in July.
?The fans would want to see it. I think it would be great,? said Roach, who thanked Pacquiao for making him look good as a trainer.
He?s a ?monster?
The win also upheld Roach?s growing reputation as a fight seer as he accurately predicted that Hatton, unbeaten in the 140-pound division until last night, won?t last three rounds.
For Pacquiao, it doesn?t matter who?s going to be his next opponent. All he wanted is savor the moment that affirmed his greatness as a fearless fighter.
?This was no surprise at all,? Roach said. ?Hatton pops his hand before he throws a punch. He?s a sucker for the right hook and that?s what we worked on the whole camp. He fights the same way over and over.?
?Manny is a monster. He is the best fighter ever. There is no surprise here.?
Hatton did not appear to have suffered a serious damage. He walked unaided back to his dressing room.
Floyd Mayweather Sr. was a no-show at the postfight news conference, leaving Hatton?s cotrainer, Lee Beard, to explain the mauling by Pacquiao.
Ricky got caught
?We knew about Manny?s speed and that it could play a factor in the fight,? Beard said. ?What you saw was two rounds of action and Ricky got caught.?
According to computer statistics, ?Pacman? landed 73 of 127 punches in just under six minutes, including 34 of 53 power punches in the second round, while ?Hitman? Hatton connected on only 18 of 78.
In the main supporting bout, Mexican Humberto Soto retained his WBC super featherweight title by knocking out Canadian Benoit Gaudet with 2:25 gone in the ninth round.
Bernabe Concepcion, the other Filipino in the card, won by unanimous decision over Yogli Herrera in his debut as a lightweight.
Martin Nievera sang ?Lupang Hinirang? while legendary Welsh singer Tom Jones rendered ?God Save the Queen.? Filipino-American teener Jasmine Villegas dished out the ?Star-Spangled Banner? before Hatton and then Pacquiao made their way into the ring.
Hatton came in to the tune of Supra and Pacquiao to his own ?Lahing Pinoy? recording.
Among the celebrities present were Denzel Washington, Mariah Carey, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson.
The crowd briefly fell silent when ring announcer Michael Buffer boomed his famous ?Let?s get ready to rumble? line, before the Filipinos resumed their ?Manny, Manny? chants.
With the fight long over, hundreds of Britons, part of the 25,000 that flew in here, lingered at the hotel halls and gambling tables, beer in hand, not knowing what hit them.
In contrast, the Filipinos, led by Pacquiao himself, celebrated at Mandalay Bay. Pacquiao, who brought along a band from Manila, even sang a few songs. With reports from AFP and AP