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September 30, 2014

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Mayweather-Pacquiao seems inevitable

After flattening Hatton, is ‘Pretty Boy’ next step for Filipino superstar?

Image

Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao poses after his second round knockout of Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2, 2009. With Pacquio are boxing promoter Bob Arum, second from right, and head trainer Freddie Roach, far right.

Who is Next?

After knocking out Ricky Hatton in the second round, the future is bright for Manny Pacquiao. The new IBO and Ring Magazine World Junior Welterweight Champion has plenty of suitors for his next fight including Shane Mosely, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr. As for Hatton, is there talk of retirement?

East Silences West

After weeks of anticipation and hype, Manny Pacquiao quickly put an end to his junior welterweight match-up with Ricky Hatton with a KO of "The Hitman" at the end of the second round.

Pacquiao KOs Hatton

Referee Kenny Bayless checks on Ricky Hatton after Manny Pacquiao knocked Launch slideshow »

Swinging Fight Fans

John Katsilometes takes the pulse of fight fans before Saturday night's Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton match at MGM's Garden Arena.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired from boxing 16 months ago saying he had nothing left to prove.

Well he does now.

If Mayweather planned to steal the spotlight away from Manny Pacquiao on Saturday by announcing his return to ring, that ruse was ruined before the second round even ended in Pacquiao’s megafight with Ricky Hatton.

With one perfect punch, the “Pac-Man” flattened Hatton, cemented his already rock-solid legacy, and made the capacity crowd inside the Grand Garden Arena and boxing fans get to thinking of a pound-for-pound champion matchup.

Mayweather saw it coming even before Saturday night's fight, giving his thoughts on Pacquiao.

"If he wins tonight, don't be all shocked like, 'Oh, ah, he done this, he done that,'" said Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), at his news conference to announce he will be fighting Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18 at the MGM Grand.

“Cause guess what? I beat (Hatton) when he was undefeated. Pacquiao beat Oscar, it don't matter. Going down to 147 pounds was too much for (De La Hoya), he was dead after the first round. I also think that Marquez beat him twice. When you talk boxing, you talk Floyd Mayweather.”

Not if you’re Top Rank chief Bob Arum.

“You are going to be the greatest fighter that ever lived," Arum told Pacquiao after the fight.

While it will take a few more KOs for that distinction, the Filipino superstar certainly added to his legacy Saturday by claiming the IBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight title.

The belt ties Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) with Oscar De La Hoya as the only fighters to win titles in six weight divisions, but more importantly makes him the first boxer in history to add a fourth lineal championship.

Fans no doubt would love to see a match-up between the current pound-for-pound king and the previous one. Arum said if that's what Mayweather is looking for, he'll find it.

"Mayweather, if he wants a piece of the little Filipino, just be my guest,” Arum said.

Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach questioned Mayweather’s timing for his comeback announcement however, if he truly wanted a bout with Pacquiao.

"Mayweather could have fought Manny Pacquiao, he just needed to wait one more day," Roach said.

"I think he's scared of Manny. He chose Marquez and we're not just going to wait around, I like to keep Manny busy. If Miguel Cotto wants to come down a few pounds, if Shane Mosley wants to come down a few pounds, we can make that happen."

Mosley has already expressed desire to take on the winner of Saturday's fight.

Apparently, seeing Pacquiao destroy Hatton didn't scare off the WBA welterweight champion.

"I like to put my skills to the test, I started with Antonio Margarito and now if I had the chance to fight Pacquiao that would be great," Mosley said.

"I tell him in person, let's do it at 147. You want the welterweight title, let's do it and see what happens."

Trying to bait a man with six world titles by flashing your belt might not be the best strategy, considering Roach believes Pacquiao’s proved that point time and time again.

Still, if Mosley is willing to take the fight at a lighter weight, he may be able to get into talks with Pacquiao before Mayweather Jr. does.

"As a fan, I'd like to see him fight Mosley," said Roach, when asked to pick between the two.

"The Mayweather fight may not happen because we don't want to wait for him. Mosley is more dangerous, they both like to fight and his power is dangerous. But Manny is the best, anyone in the world, he can beat all of them."

Roach also said he wouldn't be opposed to a third fight with Marquez, who is coming off back-to-back TKOs over Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, if he were to defeat Mayweather in July, but added, "I'd love to see that happen, but it most likely won't."

Yet another variable in this plot is that Pacquiao is returning to the Philippines this summer to shoot a movie.

If Pacquiao made one thing clear in the cloud of possibilities, he likes fighting at 140 pounds. Much like he proved in his destruction of De La Hoya, Pacquiao wasn't slowed by the leap in weight, and was even more powerful.

"I'm very comfortable at 140 pounds," Pacquiao said. "You can see that by my performance tonight. I think I'm very strong at 140 pounds and I want to stay there."

Before Saturday, Roach had said that he only wanted to watch Pacquiao fight two more fights before retiring.

The former pro stuck to that number Saturday, but admitted that it was personally tough for him to hang up the gloves. But Roach said Pacquiao, and Hatton, have made lots of money and have their health, so they “don’t need this anymore.”

If that sentiment is strong and Pacquiao stays true to his plan of becoming a political official in his native Philippines, then that leaves a small window for Mayweather to secure a bout with him — which he will probably have to do to keep regarding himself as the sport’s best.

Even if he's not ready to admit it.

“I am the king and no one has taken my crown,” Mayweather said. “Some day someone might shut my mouth, but right now I am going to talk.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at [email protected].