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Monday, January 26, 2009

Ricky Hatton seals Manny Pacquiao fight deal

Ricky Hatton secured his second shot at becoming the world's best pound-for-pound fighter after his Las Vegas showdown with Manny Pacquiao was confirmed on Monday.

The Mancunian, the world's top light-welterweight, will face pound-for-pound king Pacquiao on May 2, a year and a half after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr at the same MGM Grand venue.

Hatton believes he has the tools to shock Filipino Pacquiao, who confirmed his status as the world's leading fighter with victories over Juan Manuel Marquez, David Diaz and Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

After weeks of protracted negotiations surrounding Pacquiao's increased financial demands, the fight will now go ahead and a press conference will be held on Thursday to officially announce the contest.

Hatton's lawyer Gareth Williams said he was is in possession of the contract, which Hatton would sign as soon as it had been checked.

Williams said Hatton had yet to sign the contract – purely because of logistics with Williams being in London on Monday – but said: "It won't be a problem and we'll announce the fight at a press conference on Thursday. All the pressure is off now."

The deal follows weeks of uncertainty after it emerged Pacquiao wanted to renegotiate financial terms despite having agreed a 50-50 split before Christmas.

Williams said on Thursday that the fight was "dead in the water" for the time being, but admitted the appearance of a signed contract would force them to reconsider.

Yet Pacquiao's promoters Top Rank declared on Friday the fight was back on after Pacquiao agreed late last week to share the proceeds equally with the Mancunian.

Hatton's American promoters, Golden Boy, had begun early negotiations with possible alternative opponents Oscar De La Hoya and Mayweather, but the 'Hitman' has now secured the fight he really wanted after stopping Paulie Malignaggi in November.

Pacquiao, who, like Hatton, is 30, is officially a four-weight world champion having won titles at flyweight, super-bantamweight, super-featherweight and lightweight. But he beat Marco Antonio Barrera at featherweight in 2003 and De La Hoya at welterweight before Christmas in non-title contests which earned him huge respect within the sport.

Hatton's nominal IBO light-welterweight title, as well as the more meaningful but unofficial Ring Magazine belt, will be on the line against Pacquiao.

Williams and other members of Hatton's team were in talks with Sky Sports on Monday, with the contest likely to be announced as a Sky Box Office event.

Punch Promotions, Hatton's promotional company, areset to announce on Thursday that several new fighters have being signed to fight on Hatton fight nights.

Negotiations for another major contest, the world heavyweight championship between David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko, are near completion. The fight is to be at Stamford Bridge on June 20, where Haye, Britain's rising heavyweight force, will face, the younger of the Klitschko brothers, who holds the IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight title belts, and is considered the world's No 1 heavyweight boxer. The fight night has been reserved by Home Box Office in the United States.

Enzo Maccarinelli will meet Victor Emilio Ramirez at the MEN Arena on March 14, the same card on which Amir Khan fights Mexican ring legend Marco Antonio Barrera, for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title.

Maccarinelli aims to win back the belt he had ripped from him inside two rounds by Haye in March last year. Ramirez, from Argentina, has a record of 14 wins and one defeat. On the same Manchester card, Nicky Cook defends his WBO super-featherweight belt against mandatory challenger Roman Martinez, of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Evander Holyfield's manager, Ken Sanders, has scotched reports in a Far East newspaper that the 46-year old has signed to step into the ring against Mike Tyson for a third time, in Abu Dhabi, in a fight worth £50 million.

"It's not true Evander is fighting Tyson. A third fight with Tyson is just not happening," said Sanders. Tyson has not fought since 2005.

Holyfield's handlers are in fact in talks with WBA champion Nikolai Valuev's team about a rematch in April. Holyfield, bidding to become the oldest world heavyweight champion in history, was controversially beaten on a majority points decision in Zurich last month.


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