on May 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Uncertainty spices up Hatton v Pacquiao clash

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The hotly anticipated title bout between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao on Saturday has captured the imagination of the boxing public for its intriguing uncertainties as much its high quality.

Connoisseurs of the sport cannot wait to find out whether Hatton’s raw power can overcome Pacquiao’s lightning speed when the Briton defends his IBO light-welterweight belt.

While Filipino southpaw Pacquiao is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, he has never competed in the 140-pound division where Hatton is the undisputed king.

“I respect Manny for his skills and power but I think he should be a bit more worried about my power,” Hatton said in the build-up to the showdown at the MGM Grand Hotel.

“He’s had one fight about 135 pounds and that was against Oscar (De La Hoya). He’s a southpaw, he’s got his hand speed and his footwork so I’m aware of the dangers.

“But he should certainly be worried about my power. Manny has won world titles in different weight divisions but down there.”

Hatton, 45-1 (32 KOs), has relished his billing as the underdog, with Las Vegas bookmakers and most boxing pundits having long installed Pacquiao as favorite to win the 12-round contest.

“I think you have all made your mind up already,” the 30-year-old told reporters. “I have been reading what you have been saying and what everyone has been saying. That doesn’t scare me. I have been the underdog before.

“I hear what you say: ‘He is an over-hyped, over-protected, fat beer-drinking Englishman’. Guess what… that ‘he’ is going to shock the world again.”

Pacquiao, who outclassed 10 times world champion De La Hoya in December to confirm his reputation as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter, has mutual respect for Hatton.

“He’s a strong fighter, a good fighter and he’s quick,” said Pacquiao, who is also 30 and has the nickname ‘Pac-man’.

NOTHING PERSONAL

“He is a good person and I would like to remind everyone there is nothing personal in this fight. We are just doing our job to give a good fight to the people and make them happy.

“For me, this is not a regular fight,” added Pacquiao, 48-3-2 (36 KOs). “I consider this fight to be the toughest of my boxing career. After all he is undefeated at 140 pounds.”

The ability of the Filipino to move successfully up to a weight division where Hatton is undefeated poses the biggest question mark going into the mouth-watering clash.

“This is my weight division,” said ‘Hitman’ Hatton who stopped American Paulo Malignaggi in Las Vegas in November to retain his IBO light-welterweight belt.

“I respect Manny but should I really be scared of a fight with a man who’s had only two fights above 130 pounds?

“Manny’s been hurt several times in the past, head shots and body shots, in smaller weight classes. And I haven’t even lost too many rounds at 140 pounds, let alone fights.”

Although Hatton and Pacquiao have maintained a high level of respect for one another in the build-up, their trainers have weighed in with the trash talk so often associated with boxing.

Freddie Roach has predicted his man Pacquiao will need only three rounds to win while Floyd Mayweather Snr has sung Hatton’s praises in his unique hip-hop style.

“Come May 2nd, you will be uncrowned with your head hanging down,” Mayweather said of Pacquiao. “The pain and stress left to confess that the Hitman’s the best.

“It ain’t no diggity, it ain’t no doubt. Pac’s gonna find out what it’s all about.

“It ain’t no secret and I hope you know. The ‘Hitman’ Hatton by KO!”

(Editing by Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)