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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pacquiao Aims for Four (and Six): Real History - Thoughts

The old timers are right of course.

They look around at the fighters in recent times collecting belts in an assortment of weight classes and say, “It’s not the same as it used to be.”

While the idea that titles were once always undisputed is flawed, the term “World Champion” still meant one guy more often than not prior to the 1960s and into today. In our time, stats and belt accumulation are easier to amass and manipulate. There are more belts lying around in every weight class, meaning that star fighters can be selective in their choices as they venture up the scale.

They can occasionally cherry pick (see: dictionary definition with picture of Sugar Ray Leonard-Donny LaLonde fight poster corresponding).

Upon his retirement, there were headlines proclaiming Oscar De La Hoya a ‘ten-time’ champion, and grey hairs the boxing world over could be seen shaking.

For Sugar Ray Robinson to be a five-time Middleweight champion, he had to lose (or vacate) the title on four occasions. Then he had to regain it, from a Hall of Famer no less, every time. For De La Hoya to be proclaimed a ‘two-time’ Lightweight champion is just basic arithmetic without context or thought. He picked up a vacant belt against a blown up Jorge Paez and then won a unification fight with Rafael Ruelas, sure, but he never lost one them to regain it.

It’s not the same.

Therefore, the really special occasions, the truly remarkable accomplishments, have to be pointed out vigilantly or risk being lost in a sea of less. This weekend, what Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KO) will attempt to do in pursuing a lineal crown in a fourth weight division, a title in a sixth division overall, is one of those times.

Over the last two months, this corner has examined the title reigns of Manny Pacquiao ( ) as well as the men who have held title claims in four, five and six divisions, identifying their various title claims to understand where each fell short, including Pacquiao so far, of becoming the first man in the sport’s history to capture four lineal World titles. Those men are:

Four Division Claimants
Roberto Duran -
Pernell Whitaker -
Roy Jones Jr. & Leo Gamez -
Five Division Claimants
Sugar Ray Leonard -
Thomas Hearns -
Floyd Mayweather Jr. -
And the lone Six Division Claimant
Oscar De La Hoya –

Look closely at the list again. Eight names, seven easy first ballot Hall of Famers, and Leo Gamez was a pretty good fighter in his own right. Even without ‘lineage’ in their favor at each weight class, even with seventeen weight classes where once there were as few as eight, this is the quality it takes to hop around the scale picking up belts along the way.

Maybe it isn’t the same, but the caliber of prizefighter which makes up this class says something significant.

It says it sure as hell ain’t easy either.

What Pacquiao has done to date is already special no matter the outcome against World Jr. Welterweight champion Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KO). In staking a claim to three lineal World championships so far at Flyweight (112), Featherweight (126) and Jr. Lightweight (130), he went through the hardest roads available.

In winning the first two crowns (against Chatchai Sasakul and Marco Antonio Barrera), he defeated not only the champion established by historical lineage but also the consensus choices at the time for best fighter in the division when he met them. In winning the third crown, vacant prior to the bout, he had to get by the easy choice for ‘other’ top contender in class, Juan Manuel Marquez.

Winning titles in just four divisions, lineal or otherwise, has been a mountain too high for some outstanding practitioners of the sweet science.

England’s scrappy Duke McKenzie thrilled audiences throughout the 1980s, winning non-lineal titles at Flyweight, Bantamweight (118) and Jr. Featherweight (122). A trek to Featherweight in 1994 saw him broken down in nine by WBO titlist Steve Robinson, but he gave it a go.

Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello couldn’t do it. Strong lineal runs at Featherweight and Lightweight (135) were sandwiched around a WBA title reign at Jr. Lightweight which may have been the finest in run in the division’s history. The dream of four was stopped short in one of the greatest fights of all time, Arguello’s first clash with Aaron Pryor at Jr. Welterweight in 1982.

Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech, sans any lineal crowns, should have pulled it off from Bantamweight straight through to Jr. Lightweight but judges blinded by the hot Nevada sun ruled his 1991 thrashing of Azumah Nelson a draw. Mexico’s greatest of all time, Julio Cesar Chavez, ran off belts at 130, 135 and 140, making clear claims to the outright World title in the latter two but history eluded him too as Chavez needed big time judging help to muster a sport-embarrassing draw in chasing Pernell Whitaker for the Welterweight title in 1993.

Future Hall of Famers Erik Morales and James Toney missed for different reasons. Morales found his body worn down just enough to finish a round or so shy of pulling it off against David Diaz for a belt at 135 in 2007 after titles at 122, 26 and 30 over the previous decade. Toney accomplished the feat in the ring by decisioning John Ruiz in 2005 at Heavyweight, almost fourteen years after winning the lineal Middleweight crown and later adding titles at Super Middleweight and Cruiserweight.

Then Toney failed a urine test for performance enhancers. Hello “No Contest;” farewell divisional title number four.

The point of these trips down memory lane is simple. It illustrates the variables which go into accomplishment in sport. Timing, opportunity, the toughness of opposition, and the quality of officiating can all derail even the best of fighters.

Nowhere is that more the case than in the biggest historical names which are likely to can be used as comparison points should Pacquiao topple Hatton this weekend.

The first is the most obvious, bandied about freely since Pacquiao’s win over De La Hoya last December even if their circumstances are wildly different. Henry Armstrong (149-21-10, 101 KO) didn’t just win three lineal titles in three divisions; he held three of them at the same time. In a savvy move intended to move Armstrong out from under the shadow on the Heavyweight division, Armstrong defeated Petey Sarron to win the honors at Featherweight in October 1937, leapt all the way to Welterweight to knock off Barney Ross for the championship in May of the following year, and then three months later dropped to Lightweight to defeat Lou Ambers for a one-of-a-kind triple crown.

By all accounts, Armstrong earned another piece of history in March 1940 and this is where a stronger comparison can be drawn with Pacquiao. While not entirely undisputed, Ceferino Garcia probably held the strongest claim to the Middleweight title when he took the challenge of Armstrong. Armstrong had successfully defended the Welterweight title against Garcia in 1938 and over ten rounds appeared to outwork him again only to come up short with a draw.

Had he been given the verdict, Armstrong would have captured titles from limits of 126 to 160, a span of 34 pounds. Pacquiao is attempting this weekend to bridge 112 to 140, coming up a few pounds short at a span of 28.

Another name which hasn’t come up as often as Armstrong’s found the draw verdict preventing him from history on the front rather than the back end. Twice in 1927, Tony Canzoneri (144-24-10, 44 KO) faced off with future Hall of Famer Charles “Bud” Taylor for the vacant National Boxing Association (precursor to today’s WBA) crown at 118 lbs. Their first bout ended in a draw; the second with a decision loss for Canzoneri.

It turned out the great Canzoneri would find success elsewhere.

From 1928-36, Canzoneri would win and lose the titles at Featherweight, Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight, amassing one of the deepest resumes in the history of the sport. In many ways, Canzoneri’s career parallels Pacquiao’s more closely than forced comparisons to Armstrong.

In an era not allowing day before weigh-ins, Pacquiao may well have begun contesting for titles at 118 rather than 112, the same as Canzoneri.

Pacquiao moved from those small points on the scale to post a victory over the former Welterweight champion De La Hoya in the now retired Golden Boy’s final fight.

Canzoneri found a way to split two fights with great former Welterweight champion Jimmy McLarnin in McLarnin’s penultimate contests before a farewell win over win over Lightweight great Lou Ambers.

Had he won titles in more divisions, McLarnin’s journey up the scale would be a strong point of comparison here as well. And, okay, McLarnin had much more in the tank at his end then De La Hoya did. So it’s not the same.

It’s still healthy food for thought.

None of this analysis means a Pacquiao win automatically puts Pacquiao on a pedestal next to the Armstrong’s and Canzoneri’s of history. Those are debates for after the fight, and for all time, if it happens.

None of this even should be taken to mean Pacquiao is certain to succeed. Hatton will have a ton to say about it on Saturday night. He’ll come to win and if history has anything to say about it, the odds are in his favor to do so (or at least draw).

Have no doubt about it though.

This is one of the really special occasions, a moment when one of the men of our time will try for one of the truly remarkable accomplishments.

This is the chance for real history and Saturday can’t get here soon enough.

The Weekly Ledger

As always, there’s more:

Spinks-Latimore Coverage:
Froch and Lopez Shine:
Top 20 Jr. Flyweights:
Picks of the Week:

Cliff’s Notes…

All this and still no pick for Saturday’s fight? Tune in later this week for the pre-fight report card. Not that this has been a sterling year for picks from yours truly or anything…Seriously, when Cory Spinks is even getting in wars, you know Boxing is hot…The ticket sales for Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye are mind boggling. Imagine if the fight is actually good…Sucks that Jr. Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley was stripped by the WBC but Junior Witter-Devon Alexander is an intriguing fight and Bradley pays one less fee. That’s a win-win right?...So is Mayweather-Marquez on or not? We should know by the weekend…Finally, Rest in Peace to former WBA Heavyweight beltholder Greg Page.

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at


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Bruce Lee Pacquiao Vs. Chuck Norris Hatton?

Standing straight up Manny Pacquiao is about the size of the top of a Mercedes Benz sedan, not necessarily imposing when you’re talking about a fighter considered the best boxer pound for pound in the world. Like a Mercedes, he’s in the elite status, not just for this era, but also possibly for all time. Ricky Hatton has almost the same exact height and like his rival, many consider the Manchester native one of the finest prizefighters today pound for pound. On Saturday, Pacquiao (4-3-2, 36 KOs) of the Philippines and Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) from England will battle for the latter’s Ring Magazine and IBO junior welterweight titles at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view and is co-sponsored by Tecate cerveza. Generally when speaking about the baddest fighter on the planet the subject conjures images of basketball sized boxers with muscles bulging and grimaces resembling a fugitive from the movie Twilight. Not so. If Pacquiao reminds of any past figure, the only person that comes to mind is Bruce Lee, the man who put martial arts on the map and whose legend continues though he’s been dead for 35 years. Pacman’s upcoming battle with Hatton can be equated to the epic battle shown on Way of the Dragon with Lee and Chuck Norris in the Coliseum in Rome: two iconoclastic warriors with different styles and prodigious fan bases. Bruce Lee had that same kind of blazing self-confidence that Pacquiao emotes. Though bragging and boasting was never part of the now deceased kung fu master’s persona, the world recognized his abilities and new twists on fighting techniques. Pacquiao doesn’t brag or boast either. Yet the world sees the lightning reflexes and ability to rise from a mere flyweight to welterweight and still fight bigger and stronger foes like a pure fighting machine. “I don’t want to say I’m better than him,” said Pacquiao humbly when asked to compare Hatton. “I train hard so that I can compete with him. We’ll see who wins.” It’s all very Bruce Lee-like. Every time Pacquiao steps in the ring you can bet that a flurry of blinding punches and too rapid to predict footwork will take place with the Filipino superstar. From fight to fight he improves rapidly and confidently. “I’m a better fighter now,” admits Pacquiao almost begrudgingly from his abilities six years ago.

The hard boiled look of Hatton has been chiseled on his face after more than 15 years in a boxing ring. Like most British people, not just fighters, he has that confidence built from more than 400 years of success that England enjoyed as ruler of a worldwide empire. Hatton realized he lacked certain skills needed to continue to the top of the heap like England realized that a strong navy was necessary to protect its empire back in the early 1600s. That’s why the “Hitman” chose Floyd Mayweather to bring his brand of defensive tactics and quick movements to the fold. After losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and nearly losing to Juan Lazcano the English pugilist decided to try another tact. “That Lazcano fight, after the Mayweather fight, I was just trying to steamroll him,” said Hatton. “I told myself, 'You’ve always had good boxing ability, but you know, you’re not using it any more. And that’s why I opted to go with Floyd Mayweather.” A polished Hatton expects to bring his enhanced skills along with an expected large vocal crowd of British subjects to the Las Vegas arena when he fights Asia’s greatest hero since Bruce Lee. Think Enter the Dragon part two and that’s what you can expect on Saturday. “I don’t’ see it being a tickling contest,” says Hatton. “He likes to fight just like me.” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has honed his fighter from a mostly attack dog mentality to a razor sharp boxer who uses subtleties and movements to create openings. “Hatton is very strong,” Pacquiao says without hesitation. “I do not predict fights.” One thing that can be predicted is a full house that will witness the rise and fall of one fighter or the other. Rebates Tecate cerveza is offering a $20 rebate for the Hatton-Pacquiao pay-per-view fight to customers who buy a 12-pack or more of the beer.


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Boxer Manny Pacquiao looks beyond the ring to politics after Ricky Hatton fight

In a corner of the Wild Card boxing gym, a small, compact man with a tiny waist, powerful arms and muscular calves genuflects in prayer at the edge of the sparring ring, his head resting on the buttress.

A white bandanna is wrapped loosely around his head, his chin is tucked into his chest, and his hands are pressed together tightly in worship. This is Manny Pacquiao, devout Catholic, Filipino idol, street urchin turned benefactor and, at 5ft 6in in his socks, the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet. Finally, he looks up, bright-eyed, and smiles. He utters a few words in his native Tagalog, and his entourage of 30 Filipinos collapses in laughter.

The Wild Card, located between Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards, a few blocks from the centre of Hollywood, is a dream factory for fighters. It is an institution of sweat, spit and sawdust, where some of the world's best boxers pound the bags alongside former lags, aspiring fighters and even Hollywood A-listers such as Mickey Rourke and Mark Wahlberg.

Each afternoon, the gym is cleared for Pacquiao so that he may train in peace. For the past six weeks, the Wild Card has resounded to the beat of a drum, and the rattle of a speedball at the end of Pacquiao's blurred fists.

On Saturday, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Pacquiao (48 wins in 53 professional fights) will learn whether his training has paid off when he steps into the ring with Manchester's Ricky Hatton (45 wins in 46 professional fights) for the latter's IBO and Ring Magazine Light Welterweight world titles.

The contest, pitting the two most popular fighters in the world against each other, is expected to gross an estimated £40 million. Pacquiao is guaranteed at least £10 million for his night's work, which could rise to £15 million with his share of pay-per-view TV takings, making it his largest payday. It could also be his last.

It is a month before the fight, a Saturday, and the trainer Freddie Roach gestures outside the Wild Card. 'Look,' he says. In the quadrangle below, more than 500 Filipinos have gathered in an orderly queue around the gym's perimeter fence and car-park to shake hands, ask for an autograph, or simply touch the arm of the man who has had the official titles 'National Treasure' and 'National Fist' bestowed upon him by the government of the Philippines.

Roach, who runs the Wild Card, is widely considered the world's leading boxing trainer, and has overseen the careers of 23 world champions, including Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins.

A former lightweight fighter himself, Roach, 49, has Parkinson's disease, which leaves him with the shakes and a slight limp, though he says the symptoms disappear when he goes to work on the pads with his charges. 'We have been together eight years now and Pacquiao is like no other fighter I've ever known,' he says. 'What sets him apart from all the others is his work ethic. He's just relentless.'

In 14 years as a professional, Pacquiao has won world titles in four weight divisions – from 7st 8lb to 9st 9lb, at flyweight, super bantamweight, super featherweight and lightweight. In his last contest, in December, in what many felt would be a step too far, he dismantled America's most popular boxer, Oscar De La Hoya, at the 10st 7lb limit, in eight one-sided rounds.

Pacquiao is currently rated by The Ring, the sport's most respected trade magazine, as the best boxer in the world. His career earnings stand at an estimated £30 million. (Major paydays have come late in his career, in the past three years.)

Boxing promoters are by nature artists of smokescreen and hype, but it is still surprising to hear Bob Arum, the veteran Las Vegas-based promoter who oversaw Muhammad Ali's career in the 1960s, comparing Pacquaio with such a singular fighter
as Ali. 'Muhammad was larger than life, and loved by people, but I have never had a fighter who has so captivated one people as Manny,' Arum says. 'Everywhere I go, I am approached by Filipinos.'

Such is Pacquiao's standing in his home country that it is written into Philippine law that the army will go to Pacquiao's aid if his family is in danger. He carried the flag for the Philippines at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and is the first Filipino boxer to have his image appear on a stamp. In a Time magazine online poll to find the 100 most influential people of 2009, Pacquiao has so far garnered more than 20 million votes.

Emmanuel 'Manny' Dapidran Pacquiao was born in December 1978 in the small town of Kibawe in Mindanao, the second largest of the Philippines' 7,107 islands. His early life was one of true poverty. The family lived in a shanty town, sleeping on cardboard boxes. His father, Rosalio Pacquiao, was a farmhand; his mother, Dionisia Dapigaran, did an assortment of odd jobs, and raised her children to believe in God. She hoped that Manny might one day become a priest. Manny often missed school to work in a laundry and do menial jobs to help make ends meet.

In 1990, when he was 12, two events changed Pacquiao's life. First, on television, he witnessed James 'Buster' Douglas defeat the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson in Tokyo – Pacquiao's first encounter with boxing, which led him to dream of a career in the ring. He would do odd jobs at the local gym and made his own punchbag out of a cardboard box stuffed with old clothes.

Second, and more significantly, he ran away from his family. He had found a stray dog, and brought it home. His father, who had been drinking, was enraged and, to punish the boy, cooked and ate the animal. Horrified, Pacquiao packed his bags and left for good. He slept rough, eking out a living selling iced water and doughnuts, each for a penny profit, until he stowed away in a boat bound for Manila 500 miles away.

After a time living on the streets, then finding a job as a gardener and construction worker, Pacquiao met Ben Delgado, who ran the L & M Gym in Sampaloc. 'Manny approached me and asked me if I would train him,' Delgado tells me as we sit in Nat's Thai Food restaurant in the quadrangle below the Wild Card. 'It was a rough area of Manila, but it was a good gym.' While several promoters told Pacquiao he was too small to be a boxer, Delgado spotted a raw yet rare talent in the young man, and agreed to work with him.

Pacquiao had no money, so Delgado let him live in the gym for the next two years, sleeping beside the workout areas in a small room. 'Sometimes we used to put plywood boards on the canvas and slept in the ring,' Delgado says. 'In the mornings we went jogging, the rest of the day we just trained. He always had a big heart, in and out of the ring, and always, even then, wanted to be champion of the world.'

Under Delgado's guidance, Pacquiao turned professional at 17, and became a rising star on a televised weekly boxing show in the Philippines called Blow by Blow. At the time, he was earning about $2 per fight, which he sent home to his mother. His progress was rapid, his reputation grew, and before long the world flyweight title was on his radar. He won the World Boxing Council flyweight belt in Thailand, against Chatchai Sasakul, in December 1998, at the age of 19.

His major career break came in 2001 when, still under Delgado's tuition, Pacquiao fought at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, his first fight in America. He had been called up as a late replacement against the International Boxing Federation super bantamweight champion Lehlohonolo 'Hands of Stone' Ledwaba. Pacquiao, still a raw brawler at this point, and an outsider for the title, stopped the South African Ledwaba in the sixth round.

He was quickly spotted by Freddie Roach, who has plotted his fighting strategy ever since. Roach remodelled Pacquiao's style to make use of his blistering hand speed, while developing a mental toughness through a rigorous sparring and fitness regimen. 'Pacquiao, physically, became a fighting machine,' Roach says. Fearless, he stands toe-to-toe with his opponents, is almost impossibly light on his feet, and seems to answer every punch taken with three of his own.

Since 2001 only four of Pacquiao's 18 fights have taken place in his native country, with half of them in Vegas, the world's fight capital. To his compatriots, he has become the Philippines' most famous and successful export, and a symbol of triumph over adversity. Fourteen years after Pacquiao turned professional, Delgado, now 72, still attends every fight, and is a permanent fixture within Pacquiao's Los Angeles entourage. The boxer calls him his 'lucky charm'.

Pacquiao joins us in the restaurant. He has just completed 16 rounds of sparring against four different fighters, 12 rounds on the pads with Roach, and an hour's run in the Hollywood Hills, with only his Jack Russell – with whom he shares the nickname 'Pacman' – able to keep the cardio-sapping pace. After training, he had spent two hours signing autographs for all the people gathered at the gym.

'I have to give people time to take a picture, and sign autographs. I have to be generous to people. It is in my heart. Without that, I would not be Manny Pacquiao,' he says, ordering boiled eggs and salad. 'I believe that being famous means one of your responsibilities is to give.'

For a man so revered, he is deeply humble. He has charisma, yet engages only in spurts, before withdrawing deep inside himself. 'I'm just a regular person who believes life is simple, and I like a simple life,' he says. 'I have a lot of friends around me. I'm happy with that. Of course, in the ring, you have to be a warrior, but outside the ring, people know I'm friendly. Ricky Hatton and I will be friends after the fight, whatever happens.'

When not training in California, Pacquiao lives in a presidential-style mansion in General Santos City, Mindanao, with his wife, Jinkee, and their four children. The compound is manned 24/7 by armed security guards (there have been threats made against his children in the past). He is building homes for his siblings, his mother and his father, with whom he was reconciled publicly in 2006.

'If people don't have money, or have problems, they come to him,' Delgado says. 'And he helps them. Everyone loves him in the Philippines, from low profile to the high people.'

'Whenever he is in the Philippines,' Lee Samuels, the publicist for Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc promotion company, explains, 'people line up at his house for charitable gifts every day. They are mostly children, but also people who fall behind on their mortgage payments, people who have fallen on hard times.'

Pacquiao finds it difficult to refuse them. He is currently funding 250 children through school in his neighbourhood, through a foundation set up several years ago. Some are orphans, others have parents who have requested his help. Since his last fight in December, he has organised the export from the United States of 350 American-built hospital beds destined for wards around the General Santos region, a fire engine and an ambulance, and is overseeing the rebuilding of the L & M Gym in Manila into an apartment complex, incorporating a boxing gym in the basement.

At his American apartment, in a gated compound in Los Angeles, I asked him how he felt about the widespread poverty in the Philippines. He fixed me with a steely look. 'Poverty does not make me angry,' he said. 'But it makes me feel bad inside, and I want to help. I want the people of the Philippines to be happy, even if they have nothing. Even if they can just have enough to eat food three times a day. I feel so bad because God gave us everything to live in this world, so why don't we share with other people?'

Some of Pacquiao's most ardent supporters claim him as a latter-day saint, a new-age leader of the Maharlikan people who were conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century.

'Pacquiao is not just an inspiration for people, but has been a saving grace for the Philippines government on more than one occasion,' says Granville Ampong, a highly respected Filipino journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes for several newspaper titles in the Philippines. 'The Philippines is in a state of political chaos, of economic meltdown. There are many controversies around the current administration, and he has saved them from attack from revolutionaries.'

On the island of Pacquiao's birth, Mindanao, rebels have been fighting for a separate Islamic state within the mainly Catholic country for decades; the conflict is said to have claimed more than 120,000 lives. In spite of a ceasefire in 2003 and regular peace talks, violence continues.

'The masses could have overthrown the government but each time Manny fights, he calms the situation,' Ampong says. 'When he enters the ring, a truce is declared between guerrillas and the national army, and the crime rate all over the Philippines drops to zero. It's an amazing phenomenon.'

It is widely accepted that, despite his lack of a formal education, Pacquiao's destiny lies in Philippine politics. There is strong speculation that he will retire from the ring later this year, in time to prepare for the general elections in 2010. Last September he was sworn in as a member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Free Filipino party. 'I'm convinced,' Arum says, 'that one day he will be president of the Philippines.'

When Pacquiao defeated De La Hoya in December, he dedicated his victory 'to President Arroyo, to the whole Philippines, and to the Filipino people all over the world.' In the press conference, Pacquiao was flanked by two leading politicians, governor Luis 'Chavit' Singson and the energy secretary Lito Atienza. At the post-fight party, more politicians were spotted among his fans. Mayors of seven Manila suburbs have enjoyed ringside seats at his recent fights, along with the husband of President Arroyo.

In late February a press tour was held in Manchester and London to promote Pacquiao's contest with Hatton. The Philippine ambassador attended the news conferences in both cities. 'They have to be there,' Arum explains. 'Not because of Manny's career, but because of theirs.'

Though it once boasted one of south-east Asia's best-performing economies, the Philippines is now saddled with a large national debt, and tens of millions of people live in poverty. A third of the population live on less than a dollar a day. The economy is heavily dependent on the billions of dollars sent home each year by the huge Filipino overseas workforce, but the world recession is driving the country towards economic collapse.

The Philippines also possesses the highest birth rate in Asia, with forecasters predicting the population of 90 million (it is the world's 12th most populous country) could double within three decades, pushing the fragile economy past breaking point.
It is also the world's biggest rice importer, and has seen prices soar in recent years. The Philippines needs, if not a miracle, then an individual who embodies unity and hope for the future.

'It is too premature to judge the future of Manny Pacquiao in political terms,' Ampong says. 'The realm of Philippine politics is a tricky one. There is a huge gap between rich and poor, and trying to bridge the gap is an idealistic wish. I'm not suspicious of his motives, but what about the numbskull politicians following him? What are their motives? I think Philippine politics is going
to be very difficult for him.'

Pacquiao, unaccustomed to defeat, has already discovered that winning at the ballot box is not as straightforward as winning in the ring. In February 2007 he announced he was running for congress under President Arroyo's party, to widespread dismay from both his fans and the general public. Arroyo had become president in 2004 in controversial circumstances, following vote-rigging allegations. These have contributed to the unrest in Mindanao where, in a 2008 survey, 58 per cent of citizens said they felt Arroyo had cheated in the election.

On May 17 2007 Pacquiao was defeated in the congressional elections by Darlene Antonino-Custodio, running for the Nationalist People's Coalition, who received 139,061 votes to Pacquiao's 75,908. Pacquiao had funded his campaign with his own money, though it has been claimed that much of the funds were siphoned off by his own supporters. Political naivety, and his support for a controversial president, appear to have cost him victory on this occasion. Pacquiao's boxing fans rejoiced after the election defeat, and he returned to the ring. But not, it seems, for much longer. It remains to be seen whether he can hold on to his phenomenal popularity once he hangs up his gloves.

'Manny needs to distance himself from Arroyo if he intends to maintain his popularity in the Philippines,' Ampong says. Indeed, it is possible that the backlash has already begun. Pacquiao has recently had run-ins with the Philippine media, a situation that was unthinkable a few years ago. The Manila Bulletin reported in the summer of 2007 that he had a gambling problem, though the reporter later apologised personally to Pacquiao, who withdrew a libel action against the newspaper.

Once he is ensconced in politics, more people may emerge who are determined to bring him down. And unlike Hatton and De La Hoya, they may fight dirty. 'I spent a month in the Philippines in 2007 trying to dissuade Manny from running for congress but to no avail,' Mike Koncz, a close friend of Pacquiao and one of his long-term advisers, says. 'It is just his burning desire and strong belief that he can make a difference in Philippine politics. Do I agree? No, because one man cannot change the system over there, but that's his belief. He thinks he can change the system for the better and help people out of poverty that way. And when Manny feels like that, you can't change his mind. He's a fighter, and he always will be.'

It is Monday morning, three weeks before the fight. Back in the gym, Pacquiao is on familiar ground. The speedball is a blur on the far wall, and the fighter, totally focused and with his fists flashing, is framed by a huge poster of Muhammad Ali, open-mouthed, behind him. Training over, he stops for a chat. I ask if he is ever worried about losing. He pauses for a moment and then smiles. 'I have no fear in my life,' he says. 'I don't fear losing. Why feel fear in your heart when you believe in God?'


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Roach, Mayweather Sr. in war of words

LAS VEGAS -- Respectfully. That is how junior welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao have conducted themselves toward each other during the buildup to their super fight.

Their trainers? Not so much.

While Hatton and Pacquiao, who is gunning for a world title in a record-tying sixth weight class, will meet in the main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) in a much-anticipated showdown, Hatton's trainer, the irrepressible Floyd Mayweather Sr., and Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach sound as if they are getting ready to throw down in an undercard fight.

They even did a traditional staredown and posed together à la the main event after Wednesday's final news conference, much to the delight of the media.

Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs), who demolished former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in a November title defense, and Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), who sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement with a December pummeling in a welterweight fight, are the kinds of fighters who like to let their fists do the talking inside the ring. They are confident that they will win and don't spend time before the fight making disparaging remarks about their opponents.

Mayweather and Roach, however, have been at each other throughout the promotion. From the kickoff news conferences in Hatton's native England to their weekly comments about each other during HBO's "24/7" series, there's been just as much talk about Roach vs. Mayweather as there has been about Hatton vs. Pacquiao.

"Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach. That's what I think he is. He's a joke of a coach," Mayweather said, repeating for the umpteenth time his nickname for Roach.

Although Roach is typically far more laid back than Mayweather, he has also gotten into the act.

"A lot of people ask me if I'm worried about Manny fighting Hatton since Hatton has never lost a fight at 140 pounds," Roach said. "As long as Floyd Mayweather is in Hatton's corner, I have absolutely no concerns. It's not like his brother Roger is training him. Floyd training Hatton for this fight is our biggest advantage."

With the fighters taking the high road, trainers bashing each other will have to do. They've given the media all kinds of tasty and inflammatory quotes.

With the fighters taking the high road, trainers bashing each other will have to do. They've given the media all kinds of tasty and inflammatory quotes.

Mayweather has disrespected Roach ever since De La Hoya parted ways with Mayweather to go with Roach for his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2007.

"Who has he really worked with," Mayweather said of Roach. "He had a lot of big fighters, but he hasn't done anything with them. What has he done with them? He got one man in his court; it's Pacquiao. Who else do you know that he got that he's done something with? And what fighter has he made? I made my son, and who has he made? He hasn't made anybody. Explain it? That's all I can tell you, man; the guy ain't made anybody. Simple."

Roach's response?

"My first champion, Virgil Hill, I started him out from his first pro fight," Roach said of one of his numerous champions. "I mean, I've made a lot of good fighters out there. He made his son through birth, but Roger [Mayweather, Floyd Sr.'s brother] made him as a fighter. So, it doesn't bother me."

De La Hoya, who worked with Mayweather for several years and with Roach for one fight, said they're both good trainers, although when asked to pick one over the other, he went with Mayweather.

"Both of them will get you in tip-top shape," said De La Hoya, whose company, Golden Boy, promotes Hatton and is co-promoting the fight with Top Rank. "They'll train you, they'll make you run many miles, they'll make sure you're in the best shape of your life for that fight. The difference with Freddie and Mayweather is, I think, Mayweather is more technically sound when it comes to using different combinations with the mitt work. Freddie, he'll have you throw combinations, but it's a repeated combination over and over and over. The strategy really isn't 100 percent.

"I love Freddie Roach to death, I really do. Nothing personal to him, but from my experience, Floyd really had me at the top of my game."

When the promoters put Roach and Mayweather on a recent teleconference with the media to discuss the fight, they knew what they were doing. They knew they would get a lot of jawing back and forth between them, and they were right.

When one reporter asked who the better fighter was, since both boxed professionally before becoming trainers, Mayweather spoke up quickly.

"I most definitely was the better fighter than Freddie Roach. As a matter of fact, I've got a poster down at the gym where Freddie's on my undercard," Mayweather said.

Said Roach, "Well, you know what, I tried really hard. I fought on TV a lot more than him. I was a lot more popular than him."

Then they got into it.

Mayweather: "You were a bum."

Roach: "You know, his brother [Roger] was a great fighter, but he lost to my fighter Marlon Starling twice. He got his ass kicked twice. So, how good was he? He was OK."

Mayweather: "You weren't OK. You were a bum."

Roach: "So you think."

Mayweather: "You got whopped so much, Freddie. Come on, Freddie."

Roach: "You're the expert. Hey, Floyd, can I ask you a question?"

Mayweather: "Yes, sir."

Roach: "When I get presented the [2008] trainer of the year award [in June], I want you to present that to me this year because that's as close as you'll get to it."

Mayweather: "We're gonna see about that, Freddie. We'll see about that."

Roach: "I'd like for you to do that."

Mayweather: "And what are you going to do when I win it, Freddie?"

Roach: "I've won it three times. You've never won it. You're not going to win it ever."

While Roach seems genuinely peeved by Mayweather's putdowns, Mayweather seems to have a bit of a glint in his eye when he talks smack.

"It's not animosity, man," Mayweather said. "I'm having fun, whether you believe it or not. I'm having fun with this. I'm not afraid of Freddie at all or anything. I'm having fun with this.

"This is a build-up. That's all it is, man, to me. Everybody wants their fighter to win. But with me it's talking. Even if you look back with [Muhammad] Ali when he was doing his thing, everything is a build-up, man. Some guys get in each other's faces and never get out of each other's. But this is something with me. I'm having fun with this. I mean, I'm looking to win the fight and I'm sincere about winning the fight but as far as me, the animosity and the bad talk, I don't have nothing against Freddie right now. When this fight's over, me and Freddie can still shake hands and hug and you know. I don't have nothing against Freddie. I really think Freddie's a nice guy, but right now, this is warfare and I'm looking forward to my man winning, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes for him to win."

Roach made fun of Mayweather's stint in jail. Mayweather mocked Roach for being manhandled once in a sparring session by Roger Mayweather. The trainers have praised the other man's fighter, just not each other.

"I think Manny's a very good fighter," Mayweather said. "I think he can be a much better fighter, though, under different circumstances. But Manny's a very good fighter. I can't take anything away from Manny. I can think of a lot more things he can do that's he's not doing. So, you'll have to take that up with his trainer."

Real or manufactured, the Roach-Mayweather battle is good for the promotion, according to De La Hoya.

"It's huge. It's priceless because you're not going to get Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao talking bad about each other," De La Hoya said. "You're going to get some great action inside the ring, but people have to know about the fight, and we can do that through Floyd Sr. and Freddie Roach. Apparently, it's become a Floyd Sr.-Freddie Roach circus, but at the end of Saturday night, we'll see the bear and lion going inside the ring and duke it out."

But Saturday night isn't here just yet, so the trainers are still battling:

Mayweather: "My man's ready, and I know Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach is scared right now."

Roach: "Oh, he is?"

Mayweather: "And he's probably going to go crawl up in some hole somewhere."

Roach: "Enough with this dueling, man. It's old."

Mayweather: "It's the truth, man. You the Roach. … You see me come [Saturday] so we can fight. You understand me?"

Roach: "You want me come get me? You know where I live."

Mayweather: "I've got you, Freddie."

On and on it goes.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for


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Purchase Tickets Is Pacquiao on the Money?

The speed, the speed, the speed of Manny Pacquiao will be too much for Ricky Hatton to handle. Hatton will need to look for on early knockout in order to win. As the fight goes on Pacquiao’s quickness and technical skills will be just too much for Hatton to handle. Pacquiao takes this with a tenth round stoppage and maintains his P4P title.

Dan Horgan (Pacquiao)

Speed kills and Pacquiao is fast. Pacquiao will be too quick for Hatton, and although Hatton seems to have improved defensively under Floyd Mayweather Sr., he has a bad habit of resorting back to his hit-and-grab brawling style during fights.

By Rick Assad (Pacquiao)

There may be some dissent, but Manny Pacquiao is the best boxer pound-for-pound plying his trade today. In tight situations, this has helped the 30-year-old Filipino legend, and it will again when he faces England's Ricky Hatton for the International Boxing Organization light welterweight title May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The action will be keen and fierce from the opening bell. Hatton's only blemish was a 10th-round knockout by undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hatton gave Mayweather credit, but also admitted that he was desperate and somewhat careless. Hatton's forte isn't defense, and Pacquiao (48-3-2 and 36 knockouts) will take full advantage. Hatton (45-1-0 and 32 KO's) wades in, which will aid Pacquiao, who has faced stiffer competition than Hatton. In seven combined fights against Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao is 5-1-1. Last December, Pacquiao fought an aging Oscar De La Hoya, and the Golden Boy quit on his stool after the eighth round. It won't be as one-sided, but he will prevail. How about the ninth round?

Rene Trujillo

Freddie Roach has been confidently saying that the May 2nd bout pitting Manny Pacquiao against Ricky Hatton will not go the distance. While I respect Freddie Roach and recognize all the success he has had, I believe that this fight will go longer than he's expecting. I think there are two possible scenarios that can play out with this fight. I am usually not one to make predictions so I will just give you the readers the two possibilities on how the fight will go come fight night.

If the Ricky Hatton of old shows up, it might indeed be a short night for the English warrior but not as short as Roach is predicting. Pacquiao will have an easy night of work if Hatton resorts back to his old ways, meaning coming in without any head movement or powerful jabs. The bull rushes may have been an advantage against the Pacman of a few years back, but Pacquiao has become a more controlled brawler darting in and coming back out to avoid any damage of significance. This new and improved Pacquiao was on display against De la Hoya, proving that even though he was the smaller fighter in the bout he was able to do significant damage with his speed and boxing ability. Hatton will need to use the jab coming in along with head movement consistently to be able to do some damage on the inside. Failing to improve on those techniques will cost Hatton the fight.

Nearly eight years ago, Pacquiao had one of his toughest fights in San Francisco against the late Agapito Sanchez. That bout marked one of the very few times in Pacquiao's career that he had been bullied in the ring and the fight eventually ended in the sixth round and was declared a technical draw. The fight was stopped due to cuts suffered by Pacquiao that were the result of intentional head butts. In that fight, Sanchez managed to use dirty tactics to frustrate the Filipino inside the ring. The reason I bring that fight up is because Hatton will have to try and bully Pacquiao around to throw him off his game and rhythm. He will not necessarily have to resort to dirty tactics, but if Hatton is to make this a competitive bout he will have to use his naturally bigger frame to his advantage, something De la Hoya was not able to do. Hatton will have considerable success if he can manage to close the gap with Pacquiao and make it an ugly fight on the inside. If he can consistently give himself room to maneuver on the inside, it will be to his benefit as Hatton can pound the body as he is known for. This strategy in all likely hoods can get the Hitman a win on the score cards, but it will be a complete surprise to this writer if he manages to knock Pacquiao out. And if the Filipino does end up getting knocked out, it will be from a body shot, as we have seen over the years that Pacquiao has a hell of a chin (something that isn't mentioned too often).

Rota EM (Pacquiao)

Speed + Right Hook = Big Problems for Hatton Imagine this, the ideal rotation for an orthodox fighter against a lefty is clockwise, with the addition of the ‘Manila Ice’, where is he going to go? Remember: A Floyd counter put the finishing touches on Ricky back in 07’. Hatton’s stamina is no where near Pacquiao’s, and the biggest obstacle isn’t whether Ricky can avoid Manny’s flurries (because he can’t), it’s whether he can touch the Filipino with his own. Within the last 3 1/2 years Hatton has had TWO solid performances. Manny's got TWO KO victories over Morales alone. I see this fight going past the 6th, but not into the championship rounds. Late round (9th or 10th) KO/TKO for the Pacman.

Dan Gabel (Pacquiao)

Both fighters are constant pressure fighters, so I don’t see this fight going to the cards. Hatton is a game fighter and a tough competitor, but I believe Manny might be a once in a generation fighter with dynamic game- changing speed and power. Hatton’s only chance is an early flurry and with some knockdowns. Otherwise I like Pacquiao by TKO (if pressed…8th or 9th round)

Ruel Bavar (Pacquiao)


Just a little over a week more before the mega fight. Seems like an eternity. Can't hardly wait to watch this slugfest. I'm expecting a forced toe-to-toe inside exchanges notwithstanding claimed new fighting styles. I still stick to my prediction I made months ago that because of accidental head butts, scorecards by the 7th round, Pacquiao by UD, 70-63.

Albert Alvarez prediction (Pacquiao)

Pacquiao's speed or Hatton's mauling style? In order for Ricky Hatton to win in this one, Ricky would have to be on Pacquiao like bees on honey. Question is, will the referee allow for the British Bulldog to work on the inside? In Hatton's fight against Mayweather, Hatton's plan was to suffocate Mayweather, but Joe Cortez was not going to allow it, Mayweather was then able to operate from the distance he felt comfortable with and nailed Hatton with straight rights. Hatton must close the space between him and Pacquiao fast and must be tenacious with it to smother the incoming lasers’. No doubt about it that Pacquiao's strength is his speed, they say timing beats speed but I say speed isn’t nothing without balance.

Which is why it is imperative for Hatton to lead get in real air tight close and force Pacquiao to fight going backwards, As I for one do not feel that Pacquiao can box going backwards. If you allow Pac-Man to lead he will then have all the balance and angles and will be able to fire off his devastating shots, it's a death wish. You must keep him off balance to take away his arsenal; after all it's hard to be offensive when you have to be on the defensive every second of the round. My gut says that Hatton can get all this accomplished and overwhelm Pacquiao with intense pressure, but my heart says that I am asking too much of Hatton and that Pac-Man along with his speed and southpaw style will be too much and will gobble up the Hitman in 9 brutal rounds. I am picking the Pac-man to find the distance to rock Hatton Manila Ice style. Pacquiao 9th round K.O.

Peter Goldthorpe (Pacquiao)

This is going to be a fantastic occasion as well as a fight with the two best supported boxers in the world and transatlantic rivals will ensure an electric atmosphere, Hatton however will be looking to improve upon his last outing where-as Pacquiao will be looking for more of the same, everybody knows that Pacquiao progresses and get stronger throughout a bout but if Hatton works everything of the jab from the outset not looking for that one big shot which will open him up to the faster Pacquiao to fight his fight could take this fight early into the bout but this needs to be in the first three rounds. But these two and their respective corners will make this intriguing, I however although I am of course rooting for the British fighter I believe that the Filipino will simply have to much for the Mancunian, and I don't see this going the distance on this occasion so I think it will end after the midway of the fight with a stoppage for Pacquiao although don't rule Hatton out!

Steve Hobden (Pacquiao)

This encounter is a real pick em fight. I think we know what to expect from Manny Pacquiao in terms of style. Lots of lateral movement, straight lefts, high output combination punching. But what will Ricky Hatton do differently under the guidance of Floyd Mayweather Snr? He may well be a faster, sharper, more rounded fighter with a better defense than we've seen previously but I think he will have lost some of his strength now that he no longer does the bodybuilding exercises with Kerry Kayes, so I don't believe he will be much stronger than Manny on the night. Also is it too late in Hatton's career to change his style and tweak it effectively to fight the best P4P fighter in the World who just happens to be a southpaw? Hatton has to have success early on, otherwise he may just revert to the Hatton of old and I'm not so sure he will be able to stick to his game plan once the going gets tough.

The Ricky of old often lunges forward with the jab which is perfect for Manny to pick him off with the straight left. But on the other hand Manny tends to hold his hands high leaving his body open to attack. Additionally he also moves from side to side which is perfect for Hatton to unleash a deadly left hook to the body which could prevent Manny from using his lateral movement. I could quite easily make a case for both fighters to win, but I think we will see Manny pot-shooting and out landing Ricky to walk away with a close decision. Hatton's best chance is a body shot as Pacquiao moves to the side but I think Manny and Freddy Roach will have that covered in their game plan. Manny Pacquiao by close decision

Marcelo Ortigoza (Pacquiao)

Since everybody knows Manny “the Filipino Superman” Pacquaio, I’ll delve on the upsides and downsides of Ricky “Hitman” Hatton.

UPSIDES: He is dangerous because he is fighting at his natural weight at 140-147 lbs (Junior Welterweight) where he was undefeated in his 43 outings. With this, there is a presumption of his impregnability -- as what Fort Knox is known – against the punches of smaller opponent Pacquaio who should be exploiting his prowess at his natural weight at 135- 140 lbs (Lightweight).

But Pacman has fought bigger guy named Oscar de la Hoya at 147 (Welterweight), you probably asked?

The Hitman sneered on that on his almost unintelligible -- to us Filipinos – Mancunian- accented-English: “Oscar was just “shot” at the weight. He weighed 147 pounds for the first time in twelve years and on the night of the fight he was still 147 pounds which shocked everyone. You could see in his legs, eyes and face that he was not the great Oscar we loved and enjoyed watching. I don’t know how he dropped the weight but he looked drained and consequently the win flattered Pacquiao.”

In this win, he added that Manny has false impression of himself on that victory. He even commented that another bigger opponent in David Diaz was the weakest Lightweight Champ the Filipino pugilist has defeated.

He opined that on the May 2nd 2009 tussle Pacquaio will have a jolt of his life as he will be fighting a different strategy – far from the old Ricky people used to see when he was under his former long time ciggie-chomping trainer Billy “Not the Preacher” Graham.

He said he has more tricks to show after he was trained by his trash-talkin’ and poem-quoting trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr.

New approaches like more jabs, defenses, and head movements will be unloaded at the dais.

DOWNSIDES: From the time he fought big guys like Juan Urango, Luis Collazo, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I saw already the cracks taking its toll to his body – priced he paid to his God –May-Care-Forward-Style aggression that took away his rhythm.

In the first two fights, he struggled tremendously that many believed he lost to Collazo. In the mentioned 3rd fight, he became a target-paper from the talented all-around boxer Pretty Floyd – probably the conqueror of the Pacman as what Sugar Ray Leonard was to Roberto Duran in their rematch.

But you ask: Hatton has fought elite lightweight boxers in knock-out artist Kostya Tszyu and Jose Luis Castillo -- who many experts said had defeated Mayweather, Jr. in their first fight, and gave us a breathless war of attrition when he fought for the first time Diego “Chico” Corrales that became a Fight of the Year?

My dear Procopio, both of those fighters were damaged goods as what those U.S made Vietnam –vintage Huey Bell military helicopters cum Flying Coffins are as hands me down from Uncle Sam to the no-choice and financially-constrained Philippine government.

Like Castillo who threw his towel at the 4th Round, the rusty Tyszu has not fought for two years thus he raised the white-flag – like the drained de la Hoya – at his stool at the 11th Round as a result of the ceaseless pressure from the English man.

But Hatton-huggers my protest, Ricky baby defeated Paulie Malignaggi as what he and trainer old Floyd crowed?

Gee whiz man, Paulie was fighting as an amputee with his left hand doing the yeoman job for him after the 1st Round until the fight was stopped at the 11th round.

Paulie – who is known to have a brittle hand like a polvoron (powdered biscuit) from Goldilocks in his past fight – was sleek and effective by imposing on Hatton a Mayweather, Jr. fight in the first round until he became economical by fighting his left hand only.

As a believer of the power of Pacquaio’s left hand than what Floyd Jr. right can do, I predict the Filipino knocking-out the Mancunian hero on the 2nd half-of-the-round.

By Rizwaan Zahid (Pacquiao)

The one we’ve been waiting for a while is almost here. The fight which has been rumored since the bell of De La Hoya and Pacquiao is just over a week away and what’s the most intriguing part of this fight is that each fighter has a whole nation behind their back. It’s hard to remember any fighter that has had as much country support as Hatton or Pacquiao. Even the Puerto Rican’s following of Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto cannot compare with the Philippines backing of Pacquaio and the way the fans of England - Manchester specifically - follow Hatton.

Onto the fight…

Floyd Sr. has only trained Hatton for one fight thus far and beating an elusive Malignaggi who actually had his hair cut was quite impressive. No fighter can change styles overnight, but we did some glimpses of a jab and more head movement, something which the Hitman hasn’t shown that much before. We all know how much Pacquiao has developed over the years and this will be one of Ricky’s toughest fights, but Pacquiao has never fought anyone that will put this much pressure on him, especially to the body. Ricky’s relentless attack has not been matched by Morales, Barrera or even Juan Manuel Marquez. Hatton is also the naturally bigger guy, walking around at over 160-170 pounds.

Pacquiao is fighting a legit 140 pound fighter. Even most of the fights he had at 130 were against fighters who made most of their career at featherweight before moving up. Morales, Barrera, Marquez and Larios had fought most of their career at 126 and under. He had an impressive showing against a limited David Diaz, who was a legit lightweight, and then fought Oscar De La Hoya who looked like he had the fluid sucked out of him. Ricky on the other hand has fought natural 140 pound fighters and twice at welterweight. Both fighters should start quick, but expect Pacquiao’s speed and stamina to take over and possibly win on cuts, or via close decision. But I wouldn’t, nor should any, be surprised with a Hatton stoppage later in the fight. It will be a test for both to say the least.

Either way, it has fight of the year written all over it.

Carl Hewitt (Hatton)

Pacquiao has an edge in speed, but not as large of an advantage as most are led to believe. Hatton will more than make up for that small speed deficit with a smothering, mauling style that should sap Manny's strength and make him more susceptible to Hatton's power later in the fight. Pacquiao should have his moments early, but Hatton is probably too physically strong for Manny at this time. And Ricky's improvement under Mayweather, Sr. will be even more evident than it was in the Malinaggi fight. I like Hatton by UD.

Huwebes Fernandez (Pacquiao)

I would definitely pick Manny Pacquiao over Ricky Hatton because as Freddie Roach said, "speed kills", and Manny Pacquiao is much faster than Hatton, though Mayweather taught Hatton some improvement in his basic and defensive skills. Hatton will be in a surprise once he gets a taste of a straight left hand courtesy of the PacMan. So it's Manny Pacquiao by 6th round knockout for me.

Dr. Baio (Pacquiao)

After this past Saturdays big fight pinning Taylor vs Froch, I hope the Brits are ready for another great fight. Our foreign travelers were warmly welcome to the US with a Froch win over Taylor, but the coming Saturday Thrill all be leaving with their heads down. So enjoy the feeling of victory on American soil while you can.

My pick for Saturday May 2, 2009 is None other then Manny Pacquaio by UD. Ricky may be bull strong and a new man under Floyd Sr., but Manny has showed us what it means to be a true champ with his wars against Marques. We all saw what the sly Marques did in his last fight against Diaz. This gave us a great view of what Manny went through. He is a true camp. Plus, he is hungry.

Hatton has made is money through big fights and TV deals. Pacquaio still yurns for that and while show us what hunger and skill can do over strength.

Cesar Zuniga (Pacquiao)

YES, it’s only a week away and no one can stop talking about the mega fight between Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. With a fight of this magnitude, it is safe to say that each fighter does posses the keys to win. Yet, what aren’t so clear are the answers to the important questions surrounding this battle of extremely aggressive and well loved fighters. Such As:

Can Hatton Match Pacquiao’s speed?

How will Pacquiao handle the bigger man’s punches?

Has Floyd Mayweather Sr. made the necessary changes to Hatton’s Defense?

And the list will go on. Let us take an even deeper look and break down the individual categories and the favorite in each.

SPEED: (Pacquiao) Even though Hatton is no slouch, Pacquiao possesses the world class speed that is rare to find a comparison to.

POWER: (Hatton) It’s not quite sure how Manny’s power will be felt at 140, and Hatton is one of the elite punchers in the division.

SIZE: (Hatton) Ricky should be the bigger man in this fight even if it’s not by much.

CHIN: (Pacquiao) Both fighters’ have good chins but they have been stun before, and Hatton was knocked out by Mayweather Jr. who is not known as a KO artist.

EXPERIENCE: (equal) With more the 80 fights between them, both are coming in confident.

CROWD: (Hatton) With the kind of ruckus crowd the English are capable of bringing across the ocean it would not be a surprise to see a majority of English Flags and “Blue Moon” Singers.

VERSATILITY: (Pacquiao) With Freddie Roach at his side Pacquiao has become a good patient boxer and not just a left handed puncher. Can Hatton change his style during the fight if needed?

WILDCARD: (Pacquiao) This is Hatton’s second fight with Mayweather Sr. Even though Hatton showed signs of an improved defense, his first fight was with Paul Malignaggi who has no where near the power Pacquiao has. Hatton is also prone to cuts and with little head movement and a questionable defense it might be a long night of Pacquiao head shots.

Based on this break down one could give the slight edge to Pacquiao. If you ask this writer who he feels will win this fight, he is not picking the underdog in this one. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao will raise his hands at the end of a late 10th round TKO and remain the world #1 P4P best fighter.


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Graham: Ricky will win spectacularly

Ricky Hatton's former trainer Billy Graham is backing his old charge to score a spectacular victory over Manny Pacquiao.

Speaking on Steve Bunce's Boxing Hour, Graham rebuffed any suggestions that Pacquiao was a better boxer or quicker than the Hitman.

Graham added that with his natural size advantage on top of this, he believes Hatton should be a clear favourite, rather than the underdog the bookmakers' have him as.

"I’m really surprised that Manny Pacquiao’s the favourite," Graham said on Setanta Sports News. "So many people are picking him, he’s the bookies favourite and that really amazes me. I think Ricky’s a better fighter.

"They keep going on about Manny’s speed, Ricky’s as fast as Manny, he’s a lot bigger than him. He’ll have at least 10lbs of lean tissue on him on the night. No one can give away 10lbs to Ricky Hatton.

"All fighters struggle with southpaws. That’s a problem because he’s more likely to pick up facial injuries if he’s not smart early on, before he get accustomed to the style, before he gets comfortable. He’s got cut early on in quite a few fights.

"But saying that he has the tools to deal with a southpaw. He’s got a great short right hand, right cross. He’s got a great left hook. He’s just too big, too fast, too powerful and too good.

"I see him winning big, I see him winning spectacularly and I don’t think it’ll last that long. I’d say any time from 4 to 8, I don’t think Manny will go past 8."


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Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao electrify Las Vegas

When Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao went head to head on Wednesday there was little to suggest that the two box-office stars have anything but a deep mutual respect for each other ahead of Saturday’s light-welterweight super-fight.

But the smiles will be replaced by grimaces come the first bell. “Manny goes for the knockout, I go for the knockout,” Hatton said, before turning on those who believe that the Mancunian cannot win against the Filipino who is regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. “They said I was an over-hyped, over-protected, beer-drinking Englishman, but I’m here to shock the world again.”

Pacquiao’s response? “I never hate my opponent, and I have no fear in this fight. We will be firm friends after the fight, and I’d like a rematch at darts, too.”

Americans are coming to terms with a certain singularity: that the biggest fights in their country at present involve men who require a stamp in their passport to ply their trade in the world’s fight capital, following the retirement, two weeks ago, of their leading boxer, Oscar De La Hoya.

His mega-fights brought in just short of $700 million (£474 million) but after his capitulation – at the blurred hands of Pacquiao last December – there is nary an American fighter in sight with a comparable level of appeal.

In the case of this promotion, the lights of the Mojave Desert’s neon strip, dulled by the recession, have been relit by Hatton v Pacquiao, as both bring with them a huge following. One million pay-per-view buys (at almost £40 each) are expected to be sold in the US for this fight – the record is 2.4 million buys for De La Hoya v Floyd Mayweather in 2007 – while in the UK, Sky executives are optimistic of more than 700,000 buys.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena here has long since sold out its 14,000 seats. The gate will bring in $9 million (£6 million), while the promotion, overall, is expected to bring in £40 million.

Ringside seats will be resold for thousands of dollars. To cater for extra demand, closed circuit screens having been set up at seven other casinos along the strip, with seat tickets priced at $50. Such is the demand for the two most popular fighters in the world, seats were always going to be at a premium. Fans float like ghosts around the lobby of the MGM Grand, looking for that golden ticket.

Pacquiao is followed by an entire nation and the Philippines will grind to a halt when the two little men with huge hearts stage their electric dance. When the two men opened formal proceedings this week, known as 'The Grand Arrival’, the supporters turned out in force.

It was no surprise that a group of 6ft 10ins tall Filipinos in tracksuits – the Philippines men’s basketball team – and no fewer than 27 Filipino politicians, ministers and senators, had gathered, with hundreds of well-wishers, for the arrival of Pacquiao at his base at the Mandalay Bay Resort yesterday.

No one could confirm whether there were actually any 'summit talks’ scheduled between the Filipino politicians and their American counterparts. Nor indeed, does it transpire, that the basketball team have a single match scheduled on their 'tour’. This is Hatton-mania v Pac-mania. Sin City is beginning to hum with debate in the taverns. Bookies run a brisk trade.

High up in Pacquiao’s giant suite last night – to which The Daily Telegraph gained exclusive access – an entourage of 30 Filipinos enjoyed animated discussion, while Pacquiao watched Bruce Lee movies, his eyes darting at the action, before rising to his feet to enact the moves. Not a bad way of psyching himself up.

Hatton employs a converse method, slowly building his animosity for fight time towards his opponent.

Only these two men know the deep dark places they will need to take themselves in the last two days before they meet in the ring, while those around them fill the fighters with the certainty that victory will be theirs.


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I am ready – Pacquiao

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton behaved as though they were hosting a luncheon party for dignitaries on Wednesday at the MGM Grand.

They hardly spoke words of hatred towards each other and conducted themselves in a manner as though they were long-lost friends who suddenly bumped into each other during a social gathering.

They even shook hands, tapped each other on the shoulder and smiled back when one of them was smiled at.

It didn’t appear they are going to punch each other in wild abandon come Saturday night before an expected sellout and boisterous crowd of over 16,000 at the Grand Garden Arena.

It was only the support cast — Hatton’s trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. — who actually made some noise when he opted to call Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach as ‘joke coach Roach” and “cockroach.”

Roach just muttered a few words when he was asked to speak on the dais, telling the audience in a polite manner that since Pacquiao is superior than Hatton, victory would be theirs Pacquiao also didn’t resort to trash-talking, a common ingredient in these types of events, while Hatton’s statements were just rehashed from his previous remarks during the countless Q&A sessions conducted by the organizers.

“I am ready for the fight on Saturday,” said Pacquiao, dressed in a mafia outfit from head to toe.

“I know Ricky Hatton has trained for this fight. I have seen it on (HBO’s documentary) 24/7.”

“I respect Ricky Hatton. He is a good person,” said Pacquiao, eventually telling the people that he is even praying and hoping that nobody gets (seriously) hurt in the fight.”

Hatton’s words had more substance, boxing-wise.

“It doesn’t scare me being in this position. This is my weight division, but I understand that I am the underdog. I understand why people are picking on me especially since Manny Pacquiao is the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world who had just an exceptional win over Oscar (De La Hoya).”

It was Mayweather Sr., who stole the show with his rough rendition of a poem predicting Pacquiao’s downfall.

“Come May 2nd, you (Pacquiao) will be uncrowned with your head hanging down. The pain and stress left to confess that the Hitman’s the best. So let’s make it simple and plain after this fight, Pac will never be the same. It aint no diggity it aint no doubt, Pac’s gonna find out what it’s all about, when he beat ole legend Oscar De La Hoya, he was over the hill. Now it’s time for you to swallow the same damn pill.”

Top Rank chief Bob Arum and Golden Boy Promotions boss De La Hoya acted as the emcees.


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Al Bernstein Boxing Channel to Cover Pre & Post Pacquiao vs Hatton Fight

iBN Sports announced that its Al Bernstein Boxing Channel (ABBC) will provide “up to the minute” weigh-in along with pre and post fight coverage of the May 2nd event, Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton, which will be broadcast from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. iBN Sports will be on hand for weigh-ins, interviews, and Post Fight Coverage as two of boxing’s biggest sluggers collide in what could be one of the years biggest events. Five-division World Champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao and Ring Magazine and IBO World Junior Welterweight champion Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, the consensus fighters of the year three of the last four years, rumble for Hattons World Junior Welterweight Championships..

Al Bernstein and the iBN Sports team will be on hand to cover the weigh-in on May 1st, will also do interviews before the match on May 2nd and provide full coverage of the post fight press conference. All of this can be seen at

The Pacquaio/ Hatton coverage represents the ongoing series of up to the minute pre and post coverage of premiere matches that the ABBC will offer to fans throughout 2009. All broadcasts can be viewed live at for free as well as seen on-demand on the channel.

Al Bernstein said, "This is a true mega-match that deserves full coverage from the media. We look forward to being on hand, as we are for all major boxing matches, to tell all the interesting stories surrounding this match." He added,"The international appeal of this fight makes it very special,"

Al Bernstein Boxing Channel to offer Pacquiao-Hatton: One For The Fans

iBN Sports, a premier Internet-based broadcast sports television network announced that its Al Bernstein Boxing Channel (ABBC) is now showing Pacquiao-Hatton: One For The Fans. A special show previewing the biggest fight in boxing. In the program, legendary boxing announcer Al Bernstein, talks to both fighters and their trainers and offers his own insights into the keys to victory for each boxer. The show also includes expert and celebrity predictions on the outcome of the match. The program can be seen at and right here on

“"For this match we felt the need to do what we did for the Oscar DeLaHoya-Manny Pacquiao match, do a long form program to preview the fight. The IBN team worked hard to create what we feel is s special show for the ABBC." Bernstein said. He added, “In 2009 the ABBC will be doing more of these specials on big matches to continue to provide boxing fans with the programming they deserve.”

The ABBC will also provide full up to the minute coverage of the Pacquiao Hatton match including the May 1st weigh-in and May 2nd post fight press conference, all from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The Al Bernstein Boxing Channel is the only channel anywhere covering only the sport of boxing. The ABBC includes coverage of major matches, previews of big boxing cards, interviews with Boxing’s biggest names and classic highlights from Boxing’s past.


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De La Hoya predicts Hatton KO

LAS VEGAS -- Oscar De La Hoya doesn't see the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton light welterweight showdown on May 2 (May 3 in Manila) going the distance. He picks Hatton to be the man left standing when the end comes.

“I’m gonna go with my guy,” said De La Hoya, who was sent into retirement with a savage beating by Pacquiao last December. “I believe in Ricky, I believe in my trainer that I have for many years, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

“I respect Manny Pacquiao, I respect Freddie Roach. Great fighter, great trainer, but I’m gonna go with Ricky Hatton.”

Owing to the explosiveness and ferocity of both fighters, De La Hoya said the megabuck bout, dubbed the “Battle of East and West”, won't reach the full 12 rounds.

“I don’t see it going the distance. Not early, but maybe late. I know who (will win) but it’s not gonna go the distance.

His choice of Hatton is expected because De La Hoya, the only boxer to win world titles in six divisions, promotes the British “Hitman.”

His choice of Mayweather Sr. over Roach is likewise expected because when he bowed to Mayweather's son and namesake, it was Roach who worked his corner.

For another, it was Roach who bared that “Oscar can no longer pull the trigger.”

Interviewed by Filipino sportswriters after the press conference of the “Battle of East and West,” De la Hoya, however, justified his choice by saying Mayweather Sr. is technically better than Roach, a three-time Trainer of the Year.

Having been battered into submission by Pacquiao in eight rounds, De La Hoya, of course, is in a position to give Hatton some advice on how not to suffer the same fate.

“I’ve given advice to Ricky Hatton already,” said De La Hoya, who is now concentrating on handling his Golden Boy Promotions.

“Obviously I’ve already been there with Manny Pacquiao. I’ve experienced his speed, I’ve experienced his punches, so obviously the advice that I’ve given him I’m sure he’s gonna use.”

De La Hoya maintains he holds no rancor on Pacquiao, a 2-1 favorite in betting lines in this entertainment and gambling capital.

“No it’s not revenge. Ricky Hatton is gonna face him for the first time. Like I said, this is nothing personal. Obviously I’m the promoter here along with Top Rank, and you know Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao are gonna do their job and may the best man wins.”

Read more on the source below:

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Hatton will be like De La Hoya, says Pacquiao cutman

MANILA, Philippines – Ricky Hatton will suffer the same fate Oscar De La Hoya did five months ago.

“It’s gonna be the same Manny Pacquiao that fought De La Hoya, in and out, in and out, bam, bam, bam, and out," said cutman Miguel Diaz, who will again serve as the third man on the Filipino’s corner when he fights Ricky Hatton over the weekend here.

The 30-year old southpaw beat De La Hoya black and blue on his way to scoring a stunning eight-round technical knockout in their so-called “Dream Match" last December.

The loss forced boxing’s “Golden Boy" to finally quit the sport for good.

While Diaz sees another sensational win for the pound-for-pound king, it may not come as easy against a banger like Hatton.

“It’s going to be a little more difficult because for some reason, Dela Hoya was really not in good shape during that fight," said the veteran cutman.

Like trainer Freddie Roach, Diaz pointed out to speed as the major key to beating the 30-year old Hatton.

“Even if it’s a different fight, I see a Manny Pacquiao moving in and out," he said, “You only have to see the legs, you see the calves and that kind of tells you the movement he’s gonna have and that would be the key of the fight." – GMANews.TV


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Bars, malls cash in on 'Pacquiao-Hatton fever'

Can't fly to Las Vegas? Don’t have pay-per-view? Don't fret because a slew of establishments in Metro Manila and key cities have been offering special screenings (some of which are free) for the much-awaited fight between boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao and Britain's Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton.

The phenomenon has provided many restaurants, electronics companies, and power providers with brisk business this boxing season as many Filipinos again are expected to set their sights on the momentous fight, which is Pacquiao's follow-up after beating Oscar dela Hoya last December.

Several restaurants like Gerry's Grill and Forest Grill in Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City are offering promos for the Pacquiao-Hatton match and have reportedly sold out their tickets a full six days before the fight.

According to Gerry's Grill Tomas Morato branch manager Fernan Salvariz, tickets for the live screening have been sold out for all seven of its participating branches since Monday. For a P500 ticket, customers can watch the match on any of the restaurant's five LCD widescreen projectors, strategically placed near the mini-bar, main dining areas, and the posh VIP rooms upstairs. This also includes a free breakfast spread of grilled pork, "daing na bangus", scrambled eggs, and garlic rice.

Salvariz said they are expecting 300 people to come to their branch, and more walk-in customers who tend to appear on the day itself and haggle for seats. "To prevent fights from breaking out, we give them seat numbers so they know who is the priority," he said.

Salvariz added that restaurants like Gerry's Grill offer good ambiance and a steady stream of food and drinks, which give them their edge.

Some restaurants have even bought new TVs and projectors just to be able to offer Pacquiao-Hatton screening opportunities for die-hard boxing and Pacquiao fans, a fact that has made projector sales and rental companies happy.

"People are calling for reservations, but we can't give any so they are forced to buy projectors," said Wena Morales of an AVP products sales and rentals company.

Flock of the faithful

Meanwhile, crowds also flocked to SM Cinema ticket outlets nationwide to get tickets for big-screen live screenings of the Pacquiao-Hatton match at SM theaters.

"I am buying [tickets] before they get sold-out. I want to show my support to Pacquiao so I will watch," said one fan named Mos, who lined up at SM North EDSA to purchase a ticket worth P551.

Joy Aspillas, SM Marketing officer, said the company had started selling tickets for the fight screening as early as March up to April. Customers who bought on specific dates were given a free movie ticket which can be used for any film being exhibited at SM theaters.

"The customer's behavior when it comes to Pacquiao fights is when the date of the match comes nearer, that's when people start buying tickets," she said.

Aspillas added that, among 33 branches of SM Cinemas nationwide, about 88 theaters have already been sold out, amounting to an estimated 28,000 people. Ticket prices for various SM branches range from P500 to P550 or more.

"Ticket sales are really fast. Yesterday, we only sold out [seats for] 72 screens nationwide. Today, it jumped to 88," she said.

Although SM Cinemas do not offer food for their patrons, Aspillas said that the experience would surely make up for it. "Obviously people come here for the big screen because it's better. When you go to the [SM theater], it's like you're actually at the fight. It's more upbeat, and people are energetic and noisy. Also, compared to other exhibitors, we're relatively cheaper," she said in Filipino.

If some businesses make good profit, others stand to lose on May 3 during the live broadcast of the Pacquiao-Hatton match, a Bloomberg report said.

An article by Clarissa Batino of Bloomberg said the Catholic church is projecting less people to come to mass on Sunday morning, since they will most likely be holed up at home to watch the fight on cable television . Even fast food chain McDonald's is expecting a slight dip in customer traffic, but an increase in home deliveries.

Fight for a cause

Some organizations are also taking advantage of the big event to raise money for their causes. The Ateneo Alumni Association, which is selling P600 per ticket for a live screening of the fight at the Ateneo Grade School Auditorium, plans to turn over ticket sale proceeds to the Ateneo Scholarship Fund.

A stone's throw away at the Irwin Theater in the Ateneo Campus, the University of the Philippines Association of Biology Majors (UP ABM) are selling tickets at half the price (P300).

UP ABM treasurer JJ Sanchez said they came up with the event to raise funds for their missions and to revive their scholarship fund which has run out. He said that of 1,130 tickets they are planning to sell, about 600 have been sold.

In a similar trend to commercial establishments, Sanchez also expects more customers to purchase tickets on the day of the screening.

For those who cannot shell out cash, several free screenings will be held all over the country. In Pacquiao's hometown, General Santos City officials are reportedly giving away 8,000 free tickets for fans who want to watch at the General Santos Gym.

In Metro Manila, free screenings will be held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gymnasiums or military officer's club function rooms and all sports complexes around Metro Manila.

A mass of crowds are also expected to come for free screenings at the Baclaran, San Dionisio, San Antonio, and Marcelo covered courts in Paranaque; the San Juan Arena behind the Pinaglabanan Shrine; some covered courts and elementary schools in Muntinlupa; Valenzuela; and the Tatalon Basketball Court in Quezon City.


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Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao is predicting a "war" when he challenges Ricky Hatton for light-welterweight gold at the MGM Grand on Saturday night.

The swift handed Filipino southpaw, 48-3-2 (36 KOs), is bidding to win a world title in his sixth different division in Las Vegas in a contest that looks to be a battle between speed and strength.

Despite being a firm favourite with the Vegas bookmakers, Pacquiao is far from complacent and expects a hostile encounter with the Mancunian.

"I know Ricky Hatton is prepared," said Pacquiao. "I respect him...He's a different kind of fighter than I have been fighting before. He's a good fighter and a strong fighter.

"He has a lot of energy and throws a lot of punches. Everyone knows the style of Ricky Hatton.

"He always comes forward, throwing a lot of punches. It's going to be a war. Oh yeah, it's going to be a war. We're going to make it one.

"I'm confident I will win though. I've trained for eight weeks, sparred more than 150 rounds. I'm ready to fight. When the bell rings, I stop being so nice."

While the fighters were both respectful at their latest press conference they left it to Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather Snr to do the trash talking, which he did in typically poetic style.

"After this fight, Pacman will never be the same," Mayweather said. "Hey Pac, it's over, so quit wishing on a four-leaf clover.

"You will be uncrowned, with your head down, on your chest, knowing that Ricky Hatton is the best.

"I hope you know, you have got to go, it's going to be Hitman Hatton by KO."

Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said only that Pacquaio is in the best shape he has seen and the camp went well.

"He didn't talk because he's got nothing to say," Mayweather said. "He knows I've forgotten more than he will ever know.

"As for Manny, Ricky will whip his (rear). Ricky might not put it as blunt as I will but whatever he says it means the same thing."

Hatton joked: "Whatever he said, that's what I'm saying."


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Fight, earn, have fun, then go

BRILLIANT Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao has a smile that can melt stone and fists that can break it.

To watch him is to understand boxing's thrill, to hear of former heavyweight champion Greg Page's death (which was connected to brain damage suffered in a fight) is to be grimly reminded of boxing's price.

Men will always box, and some will always pay for it. It is a legitimised violence, an escape for boys from the street, a test of manhood, and a taker of life.

Of course, people die in numerous sports, but boxers suffer. According to a 2006 report on the American Association of Neurological Surgeons website: "In several studies, 15-40 per cent of ex-boxers have been found to have symptoms of chronic brain injury."

So two things I hope for the talented and terrific 30-year-old Pacquiao. That he doesn't box for too long and that he doesn't lose all his money. Because this is what so many boxers do.

Most sportspeople don't want to stop and it's understandable. Men retire in their 60s and find their lives awkward, to retire in your 30s can be unsettling.

For many athletes, their only skill is wielding a racket or throwing a punch. It is their only earning, and often a very good one, and to stay on is tempting.

Teams may oust greying players but there is no limit in individual sport.

And science is lending a firm hand, for athletes now understand their bodies better, eat better, train better. Golf clubs, for instance, have assisted in making Kenny Perry a major contender at nearly 50.

If sportsmen don't know when to quit, it's no big deal. Except for boxers (and NFL players whose concussions and impact injuries haunt them into old age).

Boxers, their brains bruised and careening around their skulls, have to know when to stop, but they rarely do. They see Ali now and they still don't care.

Ali boxed too long. George Foreman is thankfully well, but boxed too long. Evander Holyfield is 47 and fought in December last year.

If you're older, you're slower, if you're slower you're going to be hit more.

And that can't be good in the long run because, according to the AANS: "The force of a professional boxer's fist is equivalent to being hit with a 13-pound bowling ball traveling 20 miles per hour, or about 52 g's." And of course, heavyweights, one presumes, suffer more.

Pacquiao, asked by a television anchor last week about what he was going to do with all his money, said he'd save it. I hope so. Because no one loses money like boxers. No one.

Boxers are often generous, they're often spendthrifts, they're often taken advantage of. To house his entourage in Manila for the legendary Joe Frazier fight, Ali needed 50 rooms. Then the money goes and fighters have to keep fighting. It's a bad mix.

Foreman returned to fighting because he was almost bankrupt (and made a lot of money). Mike Tyson reportedly squandered $300 million in earnings and filed for bankruptcy. Joe Louis came back because he had to pay taxes.

And these are the big fighters, not the smaller ones, with lesser pay days, who keep sweating and pounding away in forgotten rings.

Greg Page, who died last week, suffered brain damage in his final fight in 2001. His wife, so stated a report, "attributed his death to the lingering effects of that final fight".

He was 42 when he last fought and, according to the New York Times, it was a fight held in a nightclub so "dingy that decaying dead rats littered a corner of Page's dressing room". It seems a sad, desperate place for a boxer to go and start dying.

So Manny, fight, earn, then know when to go.


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Khan, Hopkins see a Pacquiao win vs Hatton

MANILA, Philippines – Two boxers who in one way or the other share an affiliation with Ricky Hatton see him losing his fight against Manny Pacquiao this weekend.

Olympic silver medalist Amir Khan is leaning on a Pacquiao victory while former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins believes the Filpino ring icon as the better boxer between the two.

“Manny is looking very good, looking very strong. I think Manny can do it," said the 23-year old Khan, a compatriot of Hatton who also hails from Manchester, England.

Hopkins belongs to the same Golden Boy stable like Hatton. While he stressed that there could not be much of a difference in speed, he said the difference is that “Pacquiao is a sharpshooter."

The 43-year old ageless warrior for Philadelphia admitted Hatton being a brave fighter, but added that “sometimes, he’s too brave for his own comfort."

Khan admitted being a friend of Hatton, but just couldn’t deny the reality.

“I maybe from England but Manny is a great fighter, the best pound-for-pound fighter. He is what he is. He’s gonna go in there and do what he does best. His speed is too quick. He’ll catch Ricky Hatton with a punch that he wouldn’t see," he said.

In contrast, Hopkins doesn’t see the fight ending in a knockout.

“It has a good, great chance to go 12 rounds," he said, defying the general notion that it would be a short night. “I see a distant fight, but not a close one. Whoever wins this fight, wins by unanimous decision." – GMANews.TV


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Roach keeps quiet on verbal jabs by Mayweather Sr.

MANILA, Philippines – Floyd Mayweather Sr. tried to stir a word war between him and Freddie Roach by going poetic in proclaiming an imminent Ricky Hatton victory over Manny Pacquiao this Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Good old Freddie however, wouldn’t fell into his trap.

As the three-time Trainer of the Year perfectly puts it, “this is not about us trainers. It’s about Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton."

Except for Mayweather’s futile attempt to get the ire of Roach, nothing really explosive came about when the formal press conference for the Pacquiao-Hatton 12-round fight was held Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden.

But three days from now, there will be a lot of action, both fighters guarantee, as they tangle in a bout dubbed as the first mega-fight in the post Oscar De La Hoya era.

“That doesn’t scare me," Hatton addressed the media, referring to a lot of write ups that had been coming out lately regarding him as the obvious underdog.

“I have been the underdog before. I hear what you say, ‘he is an over-hyped, over-protected, fat beer drinking Englishman.’ He’s gonna shock the world again."

Shocked the world the 30-year old Hatton did four years ago when he scored an 11th round knockout of Kostya Tszyu to win the 140-pound championship. Tszyu was then regarded as one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters.

In Pacquiao, Hatton is not only up against today’s pound-for-pound king, but also faces a fighter who’s at the peak of his career.

The Filipino ring icon as always, spoke humbly, complementing his opponent from Manchester, England with nothing but nice words.

“He’s a good person, a nice guy," Pacquiao said of Hatton. “I’m ready for the fight, and I know Ricky also prepared for it. This is nothing personal."

But for Mayweather, it is.

Not only did he reiterate in calling Roach “the joke", the father of retired champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. also referred to Pacquiao’s trainer as `cock-Roach.’

Then he began his act, waxing poetic about Hatton beating out Pacquiao.

“Am being for real and saying what I feel, this is the truest quote that I ever wrote," said Mayweather, eliciting laughter from the crowd and people at the podium including welterweight champion Sugar Shane Mosley, former undisputed middleweight king Bernard Hopkins, Golden Boy big boss Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.

“Hey Pac…. It ain’t personal between me and you, come May 2nd, you will be uncrowned with your head hanging down."

Mayweather was so demeaning with his words that when Arum’s turn to introduce Roach, the Top Rank honcho quipped, “at least in our camp, we’re a little more restraint."

Which is what Roach displayed when it was his turn at the podium.

“Manny Pacquiao is in the best shape of his career. I just wish the Hatton camp good luck and we’ll all see you on Saturday," he said in his usual mild-manner action.

Both Pacquiao and Hatton are set to work out a sweat for the last time Thursday at the IBA gym. The following day, the official weigh-in will be held also at the MGM Grand. – GMANews.TV


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In your opinion, how will the Pacquiao-Hatton fight will end?

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