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Brilliant Pacquiao cements legacy with win

LAS VEGAS – It took just 359 seconds to add the latest devastating chapter to a legacy that will last for decades.

Manny Pacquiao’s flurried fists made short work of Ricky Hatton on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and delivered the most emphatic proof yet that boxing has a superstar for the ages operating at his peak.

Pacquiao sent the Englishman crashing to the canvas twice in a frenetic first round, then sealed the contest with a brutal left hook that had Hatton out cold on his back with one tick remaining in the second round.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have announced his comeback from a brief and scarcely-believable retirement on Saturday morning. But there can be no doubt that Pacquiao is boxing’s undisputed king as he continues to ride a remarkable wave of momentum.

"Our strategy was the one punch," Pacquiao said. "Left hook. Right hook. That was going to be the key to this fight."

The Filipino fighter is a quiet and reserved man out of the ring, but between the ropes he morphs into an electrifying machine – and Hatton felt his full force.

The Hatton camp had hoped their man’s power would be telling, yet he simply had no response to Pacquiao’s pace and precision. A right hook put Hatton down with 54 seconds remaining in round one and proved to be the beginning of the end.

"I knew it was over," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer. "Ricky fights the same way over and over. He doesn't have the ability to adjust."

As Pacquiao moved in for the finish in the second round, Hatton tried to cling on only to be sent down again with a fierce straight left. Doctors immediately rushed to the aid of Hatton, who eventually and thankfully was able to walk from the ring under his own steam.

“I am surprised this fight was so easy,” said Pacquiao. “I did work hard in my training camp and it paid off. This is as big a victory for me as when I beat Oscar De La Hoya.”

That December triumph over De La Hoya did not convince the entire boxing fraternity of Pacquiao’s ability, primarily as the Golden Boy’s powers had so clearly dimmed from his prime. Now there is no speculation. Pacquiao is the top dog, until someone proves otherwise in the ring.

Floyd Mayweather Sr. was a no-show at the postfight news conference, leaving Hatton's co-trainer, Lee Beard, to explain the mauling by Pacquiao.

"We knew about Manny's speed and that it could play a factor in the fight," Beard said. "What you saw was two rounds of action and Ricky got caught."

Roach’s status as a trainer grows in line with each victory his top fighter posts and it became clear his game plan was perfect. Hatton could not avoid Pacquiao, who landed with 73 of his 127 punches. The Brit could only land 18 of 78.

“This is no shock at all,“ Roach said. “Hatton pumps his hands before he throws a punch, and it makes him a sucker for the right hook.

“Manny is a monster. He is the best fighter ever. There is no surprise here.”

Defeat was a bitter blow to the thousands of Hatton fans among the 16,262 in attendance who had journeyed across the Atlantic but saw their dreams dashed within a few brutal minutes.

The typical symphony of chanting carried on even after their man had been sparked out, but it may not strike up again. Hatton, who was alert in his locker room before being taken to the hospital, is one of the most popular boxers ever with an incredible fan base, but his fighting future is now in serious doubt.

For Pacquiao, the future is brighter than ever, and his legend continues to grow.

Said Pacquiao: "I can fight anybody."