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Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 11:04 UK
Ricky Hatton fans ready to rumble

By Jonathan Blake
US reporter in Las Vegas

Thousands of supporters gather in Las Vegas to support their hero Hatton, as he prepares to fight Manny Pacquiao on Saturday.

Fans
Kane Baker, Chase Quinn and Jake Terry prepare to support the Hitman

There's nothing like a big fight to get Las Vegas in the mood to party.

And they don't come much bigger than Ricky Hatton v Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand.

Both fighters' faces are staring down from huge video screens above the strip.

Underneath, some of the 15,000 Hatton fans making the trip out are soaking up the pre-fight atmosphere.

"Wow!" is how Kane Baker, 22 from Leeds, sums it up.

He's here with two friends and they're already hitting the slots.

Ricky Hatton to win in the eighth round
Fan Paul Store's prediction

"We won $600, now we're off to pay it back," said Jake Terry, 23.

As for the fight, they admit the Hitman is the underdog, but are confident he can win.

"We didn't come all this way to see him lose, put it that way," Kane said.

Ricky Hatton is unbeaten in the light-welterweight class and any British fan you speak to here will say he can win.

"He looks the best he's ever looked... I think he's got a good chance of doing it," said Tony from Manchester, who has a ticket for the fight.

Building hype

Step inside the MGM and there are more fans walking around the endless casino floor, beers in hand.

The bars are full of big groups of friends getting in the drinks and swapping predictions for the fight.

"Ricky Hatton to win in the eighth round," said Paul Store, 23.

MGM Grand
Before the MGM, Wembley was rumoured as a possible fight venue

"Twelfth round," chips in his mate John from across the table.

The hype has been building for months here, and they're calling the fight the battle of East v West.

Hatton will have to be at his best if he's going to beat the man seen by many as the best pound for pound fighter in the world.

Manny Pacquiao has speed and, some say, technique that Hatton does not. But the Manchester fighter is bigger and stronger than his opponent.

Every so often on the street or in a bar a familiar chant starts up - 'There's only one Ricky Hatton...'

It'll be sung a few more times before the bell rings on Saturday night, when the talking stops and the fighting starts.

Ricky Hatton's fans just hope they'll be singing it after the fight as well.



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