RICKY HATTON V MANNY PACQUIAO Venue:
MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA Date:
Sunday 3 May Start:
Approx 0400 BST Coverage:
BBC Radio 5 Live commentary, reports and photos on BBC Sport website, TV coverage on Sky Sports (pay-per-view)
By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas
Pacquiao and Hatton have avoided the usual 'war of words'
The local boxing writers have been complaining about the lack of needle between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao in the lead-up to Saturday's fight. Too "responsible", too "sensible". Be patient, fellas, you'll get your war.
For all the talk by both trainers and boxers of technical fine-tuning, the light-welterweight super-fight in Las Vegas is likely to be more of a bomb-fest than a clash of foils.
Manchester's Hatton seems slightly put out that his rediscovered boxing skills are being overlooked by some, but he is also savvy enough to acknowledge that this fight is more likely to be won by spit than polish.
"I think there's a lot of technical ability that Manny should be a little bit worried about," says the 30-year-old Hatton.
"The hand speed, the combination punching, the head movement, the improved defence.
"But I think the old Ricky has to be ultimately the one that is going to win this fight.
"How strong I am at 10st is going to be a big factor in this fight. Ricky Hatton is a handful, he's all over you.
Hatton vows to 'shock the world'
"I don't think Manny has fought anyone as fiery and as rough and certainly not as big and strong as Ricky Hatton. I will have a massive strength and power advantage."
Hatton is yet to be beaten at 140lb. It is his domain (he frequently refers to it as "my weight division"), while Pacquiao, who started life as a flyweight, is appearing in his fourth different division in as many fights.
Even so, the Filipino's trainer, Freddie Roach, has no concerns (at least publicly), pointing out that "being heavier doesn't necessarily make you stronger".
Although Hatton contends he can match Pacquiao, a four-weight world champion, for speed, the likelihood is that Pacquiao, also 30, will be fleeter both of hand and foot.
Pacquiao also offers greater angles in attack and is a relentless puncher who can stand and trade (witness his five fights with Mexican duo Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales) when the situation demands.
That said, Hatton's camp seem convinced Pacquiao is unable to fight on the back foot, and that if Hatton can back his opponent up, pin him on the ropes and drill him with body shots, he won't be able to cope.
"We're going to hit that body, it's just a matter of time," says Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.
"We've got 12 rounds in there to fight, and you don't go a round without your body being hit."
Roach's assistant Michael Moorer told BBC Sport he was confident Pacquiao would be able to extricate himself from any hairy situations, and if Pacquiao can command the centre of the ring, that should be half the battle won.
Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum has also made a big play of Hatton's perceived problems with southpaws, mainly based on his struggles against American lefty Luis Collazo in 2006, a fight many observers thought he lost.
But Hatton has dismissed Arum's comments, claiming it was Collazo's size (the fight was Hatton's debut at welterweight) rather than his stance that caused the problems. It has also been noted that the left to the body, one of the key punches against a southpaw, is probably Hatton's most potent weapon.
TALE OF THE TAPE
48-3-2 (36 KOs) R
45-1 (32 KOs)
5ft 6.5in Height
41in Chest exp.
The referee may also have a big part to play in the outcome, and if there is one thing Hatton would like to pack in his kit bag come fight night, it is British official Mickey Vann.
Vann was the third man in the ring the night Hatton wrestled and mauled - and punched - Kostya Tszyu into submission to claim the IBF light-welterweight title in Manchester back in 2005.
Unfortunately for Hatton, American Kenny Bayless will referee his fight with Pacquiao, and while Bayless may be no Joe Cortez (the man Hatton still mistakenly believes scuppered his chances against Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2007), he likes a fight to flow and is no fan of grappling.
Still, Hatton would claim that, having been given a refresher course in boxing basics by Mayweather Sr, he doesn't need to resort to grappling any more.
Nevertheless, you have to question how much store he has put in his victory over Paulie Malignaggi last November. Certainly, Hatton looked a more complete boxer in that fight, but just as certainly, Malignaggi is a gentle breeze to Manny Pacquiao's whirlwind.
Similarly, how much Pacquiao proved in defeating Oscar de la Hoya last December is up for debate. Roach claims it was his man who effectively ended the 'Golden Boy's' career. Hatton, and just about everyone else, maintains De la Hoya went into the fight as a "punch bag".
We will see. With De la Hoya retired and American network HBO on the lookout for a new poster boy for the sport, the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is a huge opportunity for either fighter to fill a massive void.
And the news that Mayweather Jr is back in the gym and training for a 'comeback' bout against lightweight king Marquez, possibly on 18 July, has provided even more motivation. 'Pretty Boy' is unlikely to be back for one fight only.
One only has to witness the big beasts of the UK sports journalism scene, who skipped the midweek Champions League action to join an estimated 15,000 Hatton fans in Vegas, to know how big a deal this fight is for the 'Hitman'.
Pacquiao may be little, but he poses a huge threat. I'm off to put a bet on the Kentucky Derby, I like the look of Nowhere to Hide.
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