20-20 Hindsight: Pac-Mania Sweeps Boxing World, Will Hatton Call It Quits?

There was a fairly big upset in the sports world on Saturday. Unfortunately for Ricky Hatton's legions of loyal fans, it happened in Louisville and not Las Vegas.

With a thunderous left hand that looked like something out of the Fight Night series of video games instead of a punch delivered by an actual human being, Manny Pacquiao silenced Hatton's boisterous fans, his outspoken trainer and, one suspects, any remaining critics he may have had.

While Pacquiao was the betting favorite and just about every boxing pundit picked him to win, even he was surprised that the end came so quickly. Hatton was out so cold that no count was necessary, and he wasn't available for a post-fight interview because doctors were still checking him out.

Now that the dust has settled from his explosive victory, it's hard to find anyone who doubts whether Pac-Man is one of the best boxers alive at any weight. Even BoxRec.com, which hasn't been as kind to him in its pound-for-pound rankings, has moved him up to No. 2 behind Bernard Hopkins.

It's hard to imagine a better boost to one's career than to win in spectacular fashion on a huge stage. Manny is truly in the driver's seat of the sport right now, it's biggest star and top practitioner rolled into one, at least for the time being.

And yet there's no guarantee that we, the boxing fans, will get to enjoy him for too much longer. Trainer Freddie Roach has spoken more than once about his wish to see Manny retire soon, and Pacquiao's desire to help his Filipino people may lead him into politics or other ventures.

As for his immediate in-ring future, here are some quick thoughts on some possible opponents being tossed around in the media:

Floyd Mayweather Jr. - Now that Money has officially unretired, this is the fight that the boxing world is clamoring for the loudest. Many are suggesting that it's not a matter of if the bout will happen, but when.

Though it would undoubtedly be a huge event and I'd like to see it as much as anyone, I don't think it's the slam dunk others are making it out to be. Floyd has been known to be slightly, shall we say, risk-averse in the past, and there are weight questions too, with Roach hinting that Manny won't go back above 140.

Mayweather also has to get past Juan Manuel Marquez first. He should, but JMM is talented enough that it's not guaranteed.

Miguel Cotto - I can't find the quote, but I believe Bob Arum has already suggested this as a possibility. It would be easy to do with Top Rank promoting both fighters, and it could be a chance to bring the Pac-Man show to the East Coast at a venue like Madison Square Garden.

Cotto has fought exclusively at 147 since June 2006, so who knows whether he could reasonably come down to 140? He also has an opponent who's no slouch coming up in June in Joshua Clottey, and if he loses, I think he can kiss a Pacquiao fight goodbye.

Shane Mosley - Sugar Shane is definitely in the "make as much money as possible before retiring" phase of his career, and he'd jump at the chance to face Pac-Man. His stock is high after he took apart Antonio Margarito and his dance card is currently clear.

Weight would be the biggest issue here, as Mosley has been fighting at 147 or higher for a decade. At age 37, even asking him to cut to a catch-weight between junior welterweight and welterweight may be a stretch.

Juan Manuel Marquez - JMM has made no bones about the fact that he wants a third shot at Pacquiao. He clearly feels the two of them have unfinished business and has even insinuated that Manny is ducking him.

But Marquez's case for a third fight may not be as strong as he thinks. Despite fighting Pacquiao closely enough the observers thought he may have won either or both of their first two fights, the fact remains that Pacquiao emerged 1-0-1. He's also the smallest draw on this list - HBO would need to do a 24/7 series just to tell casual fans who JMM was.

In any case, he'd need to upset Mayweather to have a serious shot at getting his wish.

As bright as the near future looks for Pacquiao, it appears equally grim for Hatton. There's talk of Amir Khan, which would no doubt electrify the U.K.

That's a minority opinion though, as you can find writers and editors and fans saying Hatton should retire. (But really, Carl Froch, who asked you?) People close to him have said he doesn't need to keep fighting for the money, so we'll see if he listens to his head or his heart.

If Saturday was the last time we see the Hitman in the ring, he'll be remembered as an A-level attraction and a really good fighter who just didn't have the natural ability to match up with the very best boxers of his era.

Posted by The Franchise

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