With heavy artillery in both hands, Manny Pacquiao showed why he was the heavy favorite Saturday night in delivering a devastating second-round knockout victory against Ricky Hatton.
A sellout crowd of 16,262 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and an HBO Pay-Per-View audience saw Pacquiao's latest ring masterpiece, even though it was over almost from the start.
From their first exchange of punches, Pacquiao hit Hatton with right hands at will to score two knockdowns in the first round. It was a wonder that Hatton got up and survived that round. Barely.
But after the second round started with more of the same lopsided punishment, Pacquiao struck with lightning speed to finish off his prey. His crushing left hook found its mark on Hatton's jaw, sending the British fighter to the canvas sprawled on his back in a state of unconsciousness. The official stoppage came at 2:59 of the second round as referee Kenny Bayless didn't even bother to finish the 10-count.
In the end, Pacquiao was too quick, too skilled and totally too much for Hatton.
"I didn't think it would be so easy, but I worked hard since the beginning of March in training camp,'' said Pacquiao. "He was open for the right hook. I knew he'd be looking for the left. This was nothing personal. I was just doing my job. This was as big for me as the (Oscar) De La Hoya victory."
Pacquiao, who stopped De La Hoya on his stool in December, joined the now retired Golden Boy as the only fighters in history to win world titles in six different weight classes. In claiming Hatton's junior welterweight crown, Pacquiao also strengthened his ranking as the sport's No. 1 pound-for-pound champion.
Hatton was unavailable for comment immediately after the fitght, but Gareth Williams, CEO of Hatton Promotions, spoke on his fighter's behalf.
"Ricky's desperately sorry to all of his fans,'' Williams said. "He got caught with a good shot. We want to congratulate Manny Pacquiao for a great fight. He demonstrated why he's the best pound for pound in the world. There;'s no shame in losing to a fighter like that."
It was the first time Hatton (45-2) has lost at 140 pounds. His other defeat came at 147, also by KO, at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. An unbeaten five-time world c hampion, Mayweather was recognized as the No. 1 pound for pound champion when he "retired" after the victory against Hatton in December, 2007. On Saturday, Mayweather announced that he's coming back to claim his pound for pound title with a July 18 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) , in demolishing Hatton, looked clearly capable of waging the pound-for-pound debate.
On the undercard, Humberto Soto defended his WBC super featherweight title in emphatic fashion by stopping Benoit Gaudet at 2:25 of the ninth round. Soto, from Los Mochis, Mexico, knocked down his Quebec, Canada opponent twice in the ninth round before referee Jay Nady halted the bout. Soto (48-7-2, 31 KOs) also scored a knockdown in the first round but needed to fight off the effects of Gaudet's inadvertent low blow in the seventh to claim the victory. Gaudet dropped to 20-2 with seven KOs.
In another fight, Brooklyn's Daniel Jacobs won a unanimous decision against Chicago's Michael Walker in an eight-round middleweight bout. Jacobs kicked off the televised portion of the show as the replacement for top prospect James Kirkland, who was recently jailed on weapons charges. Jacobs, who fought just eight days earlier, showed why he's also considered one of the middleweight division's hottest prospects, running his record to 16-0 with 15 KOs. He averaged 39 jabs per round, connecting on 225 of 767 total punches. Walker fell to 19-2-2 with 12 KOs.