2009 Boxing Knockout Of The Year: Manny Pacquiao – Ricky Hatton

Boxing fans are quick with the hyperbole. It’s understandable. It’s a dynamic sport. Sometimes when we watch someone gets knocked out dramatically, violently, it’s so profound an experience you’d swear it’s the best KO you’ve ever seen. But moments later we come to our senses, or if we don’t, a veteran boxing writer puts things in appropriate perspective the next day, and all the shouting with exclamation points is confined to the farthest corners of boxing message boards.

That didn’t happen so much with Manny Pacquiao’s immaculate knockout of junior welterweight Ricky Hatton.

You don’t have to look far to find level-headed boxing writers discussing whether Pacquiao’s left hook to Hatton’s head is the best one-punch knockout of all time. In the end, most of them conclude, no — it isn’t. That’s probably heavyweight Rocky Marciano’s number on Jersey Joe Walcott, or middleweight Sugar Ray Robinson’s doozy against Gene Fullmer, or a handful of others. But it’s in the discussion. It might be a finalist, or, if not, an honorable mention. It is obviously and easily the best knockout of 2009, that’s for sure, despite some pretty good runners-up.

It was the one punch Pacquiao was waiting for. In the 1st round, he was focusing on landing the right hand, a weapon he’d slowly turned from what was little more than a gimp arm into a fine alternative to keep his opponent from focusing too much on his left hand and then, finally, into a weapon of mass destruction. That right hand scored the first knockdown. His oldest friend, the straight left, scored the second. This was already a big deal. We’d all wondered whether the uncanny power Pacquiao showed in the lower weight classes had finally begun to water down. Clearly, it hadn’t.

At the end of the 2nd, where Hatton didn’t have nearly as terrible a round, the punch — the one Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach had in mind from the start — came. Roach had noticed Hatton’s tendency to cock his punches before he threw them. In the conclusive round, Pacquiao barely missed with a version of the knockout shot he’d eventually connect with, rattling Hatton with left hooks that didn’t land quite square on Hatton’s mug. But when he landed square, boy, was it ever square. Full extention. Right on the chin. Hatton went flat down on his back.

He wouldn’t get up for several disturbing minutes, his eyes glassed over completely. The “WHOA”s and “OH MY GOD”s shouted at my apartment by my guests that night turned to “Oh he doesn’t look good”s until Hatton’s eyes finally stopped rolling around aimlessly in their sockets and he sat up. Most people like Hatton as a person a good deal, myself included. I didn’t want to see him hurt.

But since he’s OK, I’d just like to say one more thing about The Queensberry Rules 2009 Knockout of the Year:


About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.