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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Exclusive: Hatton and Pacquiao interviews and Roach three round KO prediction a ruse

From now until Hatton-Pacquiao Battle if The East and The West fight night at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on May 2, Telegraph sport will be publishing at least one daily video and newsline on this blog building up to the biggest fan's fight of the year.

This late April, May and June are three major months for British fighters...Carl Froch fights Jermain Taylor in the United States next weekend, defending his WBC supermiddleweight title, and David Haye pits his heavyweight wits against Wladimir Klitschko and his two world title belts in Germany on June 20.

Between times, the two most popular fighters in the world face off, a fight riven firstly by hype, but now by myriad opinions in a rich tapestry of claim and counter-claim about which of the two fearsome men (both fear-less in the ring) will win, why, and how.

Not only do the national media in both countries have strong opinions, the fans are trading on the forums, too. There are plenty of keyboard KOs around. Indeed, it appears that Pacquiao is highly representative of the machismo of the young Filipino male. It has made for great reading.

My only sadness is that so many of Manny's fans do not have the funds to travel to Vegas (many Hatton fans saved for a year to go to see him fight Mayweather) and I believe if all the respective fans could afford to go to Las Vegas, there would be an invasion upwards of 100,000, the like of which has never been seen before...

Back to the fight. The issues under discussion are numerous.

Weight advantage, cute movement, lateral movement, upper body and head, commitment early in the rounds of the fight, body punches, the lifestyles of the two fighters, their physical engines, the ability to feint, the ring nous of miniscule, subtle movements to bring the opponent onto the punch, Hatton unbeaten at 140lbs, Pacquiao untested at 140lbs, hand speed...I could go on and on.

I have already nailed my colours to the mast. My gut instinct is that Pacquiao will be more clinical and could have an advantage as the fight wears on and he catches Hatton more. He could stop the Pride of Manchester in the third section of the fight. Hatton, though, will be very dangerous early on, and will unleash his ferocious hooks to head and body from the off.

I don't believe Freddie Roach's assessment that Pacquiao will win in three rounds. Nor do I believe they are setting their stall out to win that way. I believe it is a ruse. Pacquiao will be assessing Hatton early on, avoiding the bigger man until he sees openings (rather like he did in the first 2-3 rounds with Oscar De La Hoya). Reading between the lines, hearing Roach talk about Manny's "growing maturity" as a fighter, I expect he will wait. And wait.

Click on the Ricky Hatton audio below. When I spoke to him in Las Vegas, Ricky was convinced - 100 pc - that technically he has improved in droves since taking up with Floyd Mayweather Snr. Hatton has an eye on a re-match with young Floyd and from what he told me, the defeat gnaws at him, and he wants to have a re-match with the American to prove his tactics were so wrong that night.

"You have to jab, use your defence, feint, be clever. I should not be relying on my strength. There was no method to my madness. It makes no sense at this level. You've got to set them up, move your head. I got used to relying on power and strength." It is good to hear Ricky saying such things. No doubt had he looked at another strategist, rather than long time trainer Billy Graham, there may have been a more gratifying outcome against Mayweather on Dec 8 2007.

I believe that if Hatton had got through the 12 rounds with Mayweather, lost on points, and not been knocked out, it would not have irked him so. Nor would he want the re-match. It was all about being knocked out.

On Manny, Ricky believes he has the skills to master him. (Enter legions of Manny fans to disagree vehemently)

Click here to listen to Ricky Hatton talking from his Las Vegas apartment

If you missed the video of my visit to Manny's apartment in LA, and an interview with it is again. The highlights ? Pacquiao a total gent; the three darts boards in preparation for the Pacmania darts tournament, and his smiling friends.

I was told there was a 9pm curfew for Manny at the apartment, with all friends out.

Looked to me like Manny was happy to have his mates there. It was great to meet Pacman the dog, too, who has some engine. That dog can run.

On the same day Telegraph Sport visited Pacquiao at his apartment, I had an intriguing interview with Granville Ampong, an LA-based journalist from the Phlippines, who is editor and publisher of The Maharlikan Times. Ampong also writes for several Filipino news agencies and newspaper titles. He knew the intimate, and intricate details of the culture from which Pacquiao hails, and offered a detailed insight into just why Pacquiao is so revered in his homeland. More on that on makes for an intruiguing read, and shows just how much pressure Manny faces from all quarters. Perhaps too much.


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