Ricky Hatton was yesterday facing a cruel but inevitable question here after his savage two-round beating by Manny Pacquiao, who superbly confirmed his ranking as boxing's best pound-for-pound performer.
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While Hatton's advisers and family were saying it was too early for a decision, the question asked: is his $8m pay-cheque the last he will receive in a 47-fight career which now contains two humiliating defeats at the hands of front-rank fighters, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr, who beat him here in 10 rounds 17 months ago?
Hatton's father and manager Ray and his mother Carol were shocked as Pacquiao knocked their son down twice in the first round – then completed the onslaught with a massive left hook a second from the end of the second round. When Hatton came round he said, before going to hospital for a brain scan, "I'm all right... I lost to a great fighter. I didn't see the punch." Hatton was released from hospital after tests and joined his parents and his fiancée Jennifer and was reported to have been "very disappointed" as he sipped on his beer – a modest celebration compared with his usual post-fight rituals.
Gareth Williams, chief executive of Hatton Promotions, said: "It is too soon for a decision but I can say that Ricky will never have to worry about paying his mortgage if he never fights again. In the end, only one man can make the decision." The likelihood is that the decision will be reached in the next two weeks, before his next scheduled meeting with the media at the opening of his custom-built gym for the fighters in the Hatton stable.
Hatton was not lacking advice on retirement, however. Freddie Roach, trainer of Pacquiao, said: "Ricky has been a good fighter but I think this is the right time for him to retire. It was a very easy win for Manny tonight."
Southpaw Pacquiao won Hatton's IBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight titles but they were the merest incidentals in a night of dazzling triumph for the hero of the Philippines – and now boxing's richest property. "I didn't expect such an easy fight but we were very confident I could knock him out quite early," he said.
"Our secret weapon was the right hook. We looked at a lot of film and decided he wouldn't be able to defend against it – and we were right."
For Pacquiao, the biggest prize is the prospect of him at least doubling his $12m fee for beating Hatton if Floyd Mayweather Jnr's return from retirement results in victory over Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez here in July.
There is no doubt Pacquiao is the man who has most captured the imagination of boxing. This was his sixth title triumph in six separate weight divisions – and his fourth successive triumph at a different weight. "He was beautiful tonight," said his trainer – and if Hatton ever has the will, and perhaps even the courage, to see the video, he will no doubt agree.