A thong, diet pills and too many verbal jabs to tally, if this Saturday’s action inside the ring at the MGM Grand is half as memorable as the antics leading up to the mega-fight, boxing fans are in for a treat.
Reigning fighter-of-the-year Manny Pacquiao will put his pound-for-pound supremacy on the line when he takes on Britain’s Ricky Hatton for the IBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight championship in a bout dubbed “The Battle of East and West.”
“You've got two of the best fighters in the world in Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, as well as two of the most exciting fighters, facing each other in their primes,” said the recently retired Oscar De La Hoya, who is the CEO of
Golden Boy Promotions. “This is going to be a fight to remember.”
While it’s almost certain the fight will be anything but dull — Hatton’s (45-1, 32 knockouts) only lost came to the previous pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), who has lost only once in is his last 25 matches, is coming off a year in which he won two world championships and dominated De La Hoya – the build-up to the bout may be even better than the real thing.
The two boxers have been almost pleasant in their boasts, but the boxers’ trainers - Floyd Mayweather Sr. for Hatton and Freddie Roach for Pacquiao – seem like they would rather be the ones in the ring.
“I most definitely was the better fighter than Freddie Roach," said Mayweather Sr., who compiled a pro record of 29-6-1 with 19 knockouts. "I got a (fight) poster with Freddie on my undercard."
Roach fired back: "You got shot and it ruined your career,” joked Roach of Mayweather, who suffered a shotgun blast to his leg.
“I fought on TV more."
“I want you Freddie,” Mayweather jabbed back on a recent teleconference after Roach sent Hatton (known for bulking up between fights because of his love for beer) special diet pills.
“Come get me, you know where I am,” Roach replied, before Golden Boy boss Richard Schaefer stepped in to stop their verbal spat.
Hatton, who flashed a thong in a prank of Mayweather Sr. during a recent episode of HBO’s all-access 24/7 series, said not to read too much into the trainers’ altercation.
“It would be a very boring sport if we didn’t have personalities like this,” said Hatton, who has never lost at 140 pounds.
“We’ve got two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world fighting, and arguably two of the best trainers in the world fighting. They just want to get one over on each other. I wouldn’t read too much into it. They’re both excellent coaches.”
But Roach says his pupil has the distinct advantage of speed, and that any slight power plus by Hatton is negated by the “Pac-Man’s” explosiveness.
“I told Manny I would be very disappointed in him if he didn’t have Hatton stopped by the end of the third round,” said Roach.
“Hatton is not fundamentally sound as a fighter – he keeps his chin up. He is the perfect opponent for Manny. You’re going to hear a lot of glass breaking when Manny starts playing his chin music concerto on Hatton. You’re going to see who has the chops to play this masterpiece on May 2.”
Hatton disagreed whole-heartedly, saying he feels more confident than ever. “There's no doubt in my mind who's going to win this fight,” Hatton said. "I've never been more certain, and I've never been more confident. I've got an opponent who I feel I'm stronger than. As long as I get my tactics right and my timing right, I'll hold on to my belt and I hope to claim the pound-for-pound spot.
"As long as Ricky Hatton does what Ricky Hatton does best, I believe I'm going to be too much in all areas for Manny. I'm saying that, because that's what I believe."
While the two boxers may disagree on who has the distinct advantage, both agree that the bout will be the biggest of their careers.
“For me, this is not a regular fight," Pacquiao said. "I consider this fight to be the toughest of my boxing career.”
May 2, 3:30 p.m. MGM Grand Garden Arena, $150-$1,000. Also on pay-per-view.