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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hopkins picks Pacquiao to win this time around

MANILA, Philippines – From Pacquiao basher to “Pacman" believer.

Former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins sees Filipino phenom Manny Pacquiao winning his May 2 fight against Englishman Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Interviewed on ESPN’S Friday Night Fight, Hopkins told host Brian Kenny that Pacquiao’s speed and power will spell the difference in his light-welterweight encounter with Hatton.

“I see Pacquiao pouring all the speed, scoring on side angles. Ricky Hatton’s not gonna know when to fight a different style at the right time, and I think that’s when Pacquiao is at his best, when guys come forward to him and picks him off," said Hopkins.

That he’s siding with Pacquiao this time is a bit surprising.

Just three months ago, Hopkins said no way would the Filipino ring icon beat the legendary Oscar De La Hoya in their highly-awaited welterweight showdown also at the MGM Grand.

In front of some 6,000 screaming fans at the MGM Grand, Hopkins boasted during the official weigh-in of the Dec. 6 bout that “Oscar De La Hoya will win this fight," even predicting that Pacquiao would be knocked out in the 7th or 8th round.

His statement naturally drew a loud chorus of boos from the multitude of Filipino fans back then. Hopkins then snapped back, “If there’s a problem with what I said, I’ll be waiting outside."

The 30-year old four-time world champion went on to prove Hopkins wrong by dealing De La Hoya his worst beating as a pro and scored a stunning eighth round technical knockout.

Now Hopkins is singing a different tune.

“Pacquiao has the fast hands, and Hatton’s style is to come forward and come forward. So look for Pacquiao to catch him coming in," he said.

“I don’t’ think he (Hatton) can better box than Pacquiao."

But Hopkins tried to be fair to the fighter from Manchester, whom he expects to give the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world today a very competitive fight.

“He (Pacquiao) is gonna be tested by Ricky Hatton. Hatton is a very aggressive fighter. For sure, this is gonna be an exciting fight," he said.

A noted puncher known for not backing off, Hatton could give Pacquiao problems in the early rounds of the fight, according to Hopkins.

But not for long.

“Early on, yes. But as time goes on with the fight, he’ll be getting hit for being aggressive," said the future Hall of Famer.

“If Hatton don’t come out with another plan or style, then it’s going to be a problem," Hopkins said. –GMANews.Tv


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