Two major fights have been announced for the month of May — one in the boxing ring and the other in the octagon cage. Both should be major events.
Manny Pacquaio, coming off his stunning defeat of Oscar De La Hoya, will face British boxing icon Ricky Hatton on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas in a junior welterweight title fight. Three weeks later in the same arena, Brock Lesnar, who destroyed UFC legend Randy Couture in one round in November, will face the man who defeated him in February 2008, Frank Mir.
I like Pacquaio to come out on top over Hatton, who I think is overrated and over the hill. But it should be a raucous scene at the MGM. Pacquaio is an international star, a national hero in the Phillipines and now a fan favorite in Las Vegas. But Hatton will bring thousands of British fans with him for the fight. They will come even if they can’t get tickets, just to be in town to pay to watch it on closed-circuit television at a casino.
Lesnar-Mir is more compelling from a competitive view. Lesnar is enormous, and the former NCAA wrestling champion has made huge strides since coming over to mixed martial arts in 2006. But he lost to Mir, perhaps the best technical heavyweight in UFC, in a one-round submission, and if Mir is in shape — always a question mark — I like his chances against Lesnar. Mir looked impressive in stopping Antonio Nogueira in the second round of UFC 92.
Both events will be a shot in the arm for Vegas, which is taking a beating in this poor economy.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Monday, March 9, from 5 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com