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Pacquiao wows in quick victory over Hatton

Manny Pacquiao (left) hits Ricky Hatton during the first round of their junior welterweight bout on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Manny Pacquiao (left) hits Ricky Hatton during the first round of their junior welterweight bout on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. took his daughter bowling Saturday night after announcing his return to the ring.

Good thing, because if he had seen Manny Pacquiao fight he might have figured out what boxing fans now know – that the future of boxing lies in the furious fists of a most unlikely new superstar.

Had he been watching, Mayweather might have been as stunned at what he saw as his estranged father seemed to be while working in Ricky Hatton’s corner. Fighters just aren’t supposed to do the kind of things Pacquiao did to Hatton in 5 minutes and 59 seconds of utter domination before a thrilled crowd at the MGM Grand hotel.

All Mayweather can do now is get in line. The road to greatness now runs through a fighter who truly does let his fists do the talking.

“If Mayweather wants a piece of the little Filipino, just be my guest,” promoter Bob Arum crowed when it was all over.

That’s not likely to happen right away, but the odds are good it will happen eventually. There’s too much money involved for it not to.

But give Pacquiao Round 1 already. On a day when Mayweather tried to steal his thunder by unretiring, Pacquiao went into the ring and showed why he is the most exciting thing to happen to boxing in a long, long time.

He didn’t just beat Hatton, didn’t just knock him out. He demolished a world-class fighter who had never lost at his natural weight of 140 pounds. And he did it with such precision and ease that the talk afterward wasn’t whether Pacquiao is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but whether he might be one of the best ever.

A right hook – a punch most southpaws don’t even have – started it all, dropping Hatton midway through the first round. A left cross that may be one of the greatest single punches ever thrown in a big fight ended it with a dramatic flourish.

When it was over, Hatton was sprawled motionless on his back in the center of the ring. Pacquiao and his corner were celebrating and the sellout crowd was trying to digest what they had just seen.

And Mayweather was at a bowling center somewhere trying to pick up a spare.

A few hours earlier, Mayweather had declared that “The king is back” and said he was ready to reclaim his title as the best pound-for-pound fighter. But boxing has a new king in an unassuming fighter so good that he won his last four fights in four different weight classes.

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