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Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 12:43 UK

Hatton fans mob Sin City weigh-in

By Chris Summers
BBC News, Las Vegas

Hatton and Pacquiao fans
British and Filipino fight fans exchanged banter at the weigh-in

If the atmosphere at the MGM Grand on Saturday night is anywhere near as good as it was during the weigh-in, we could be in for a cracking fight.

Up to 25,000 fans of Manchester's Ricky Hatton have defied the recession to fly out for his latest epic clash, against Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines.

Thousands of The Hitman's fans, swathed in union flags and downing beers, crowded into the arena to see their hero tip the scales at exactly 10 stone, 24 hours before the fight.

Ironically, no title is at stake - we can safely ignore the IBO championship bauble - but more important for the winner will be the right to be considered the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

Adam Dallinger (right) and Wes Eason
These are the two best fighters in the world. Let's get it on.
Adam Dallinger
Hatton supporter

Although Hatton hails from Manchester his fans come from all over Britain.

Wes Eason and Adam Dallinger, from Brighton, are making their first trip to Sin City and at some cost.

The pair, who both work for Lloyds TSB, forked out around £1,500 each for the trip but Adam said: "So far it's worth every penny. We've been affected by the credit crunch but we said when they announced the fight we had to do it. These are the two best fighters in the world. Let's get it on."

Plumber John Thomson and his pal Mark Riddell, who works in the oil industry, had both made the tortuous trip to Las Vegas from Aberdeen - which meant at least five changes of plane.

Mike Daines (left) and Matthew Cotton
For Mike Daines and Matthew Cotton it was their first fight in Las Vegas

John said: "I run my own business so I'm not affected by the credit crunch. I used to box myself and I am a big boxing fan, and a Hatton fan."

John predicted: "There is definitely going to be a stoppage. I want Hatton to win but Pacquiao is fast and really good. It's going to be explosive."

Mike Daines and Matt Cotton, from Kent, had combined the fight with a stag weekend and admitted they had saved up for months to be able to afford it. They might be in debt when they return to the UK - but Matt added philosophically: "We'll worry about that when we get home."

His prediction: "If Hatton doesn't knock him out he will lose on points because Pacquiao lands so many punches."

Drowned out

Mike agreed: "Pacquiao is the smaller guy but you need to knock him out to win."

"Pacman" had plenty of his own supporters at the weigh-in, although their songs and chants were rather drowned out by the British contingent.

Few Filipinos are able to afford the trip to Las Vegas but he has many fans among second and third generation Filipino Americans.

Mark Riddell and John Thomson
Mark Riddell (left) and John Thomson travelled from Aberdeen

Virgil DeGuzman, one of 20 Pacquiao supporters from San Francisco, said: "Of course it costs money to get here but if you are a deep fan you will find the money from somewhere."

He said he was quietly confident of victory for his man but he admitted: "Hatton has a lot of speed, power and raw strength and is different from previous fighters he has fought. Pacquiao has not been hit that hard but if Hatton can do it we will see what can happen."

Also from California were Briannah Winslow, Alex Verb and Mike Cisneros, who have become massive Ricky Hatton fans in the last couple of years and all wore identical, flashy but home-made Hatton t-shirts.

Asked what it was they liked about Hatton, Mike, from Fresno, said: "It's his perseverance, his bulldog tactics and no fear."

Briannah said: "People like him because they can relate to him."

Mike agreed, and said he loved the fact that Hatton enjoyed beer and fast food, frequently ballooning in weight between fights.

Huge roar

And Hatton's fans?

(L to R) Mike Cisneros, Briannah Winslow and Alex Verb
Ricky Hatton's hard core fans from Fresno, California

"They're awesome. I enjoy being around them," added Mike.

The fight's co-promoter, Bob Arum, is probably equally charmed by the Hatton crowd as their presence will enable him to make plenty of money from the fight.

Arum told me: "There has to be at least 15,000 Brits over here and lots of Filipinos too. This is boxing's version of the World Cup."

As for Hatton, who has eschewed the 'Ricky Fatton' persona recently and looked positively emaciated on Friday, he addressed his fans directly and to a huge roar vowed: "You will not go home disappointed."



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SEE ALSO
Hatton upbeat for Pacquiao clash
01 May 09 |  Boxing
Ricky Hatton fans ready to rumble
01 May 09 |  Newsbeat
Ricky Hatton
30 Sep 03 |  Profiles


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