LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Favourite Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines claimed the IBO light-welterweight title with a stunning second round knockout of Ricky Hatton on Saturday.
The 30-year-old southpaw twice knocked the Englishman to the canvas in the opening round before ending the fight with a stinging left hook at the MGM Grand Hotel’s Garden Arena.
The ring announcer said the fight had ended two minutes, 39 seconds into the round but that was later corrected by officials to two minutes, 59 seconds.
“I was surprised that this was so easy but I’ve worked hard in training camp since the beginning of March,” a beaming Pacquiao said in a ringside interview.
”It’s nothing personal. I was just doing my job.
“This is as big for me as the De La Hoya win,” the Filipino added, referring to his eight-round stoppage of 10-times world champion Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas last December.
Watched by a capacity crowd of around 16,000, Hatton began the opening round by cramping Pacquiao and repeatedly forcing him to back-peddle on to the ropes.
However, the Filipino responded with a flurry of combinations late in the round, bloodying the Englishman’s nose with a right hook before sending Hatton sprawling to the canvas.
Under concerted pressure, Hatton was pinned to the ropes before again being knocked to the floor by a Pacquiao left hook.
Pacquiao maintained the dazzling pace in the second round, landing a series of sharp punches and jabs before feinting with the right and unleashing a stinging left hook to the jaw, which put Hatton flat on his back.
”This was no surprise,“ said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, who had predicted his man would need only three rounds to win. ”Hatton pumps his hands before he throws a punch. He is a sucker for the right hook and this is what we worked on.
“He cocks back before he throws his punches. He fights the same way over and over. I studied tapes of all his fights for the last two months and I know him as well as I know my own fighter.”
Widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Pacquiao improved his career record to 49-3-2 with 37 knockouts.
Hatton, who had never previously lost at his natural weight of 140 pounds, slipped to 45-2 with 32 knockouts.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury