Search Updates:

Pacquiao vs Mosley Online Live Streaming

Pacquiao vs Mosley News and Updates, Online Live Streaming and Coverage, Pacquiao Mosley 24/7 by HBO

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fear the Last F-word in Confident Ricky Hatton's Vocabulary

I really fancy myself for this one," Ricky Hatton says hopefully as his short and stubby fingers rub the flattened bridge of his fighter's nose. "I'm going to be fast and fiery and ferocious and …" Hatton, The Hitman from Manchester now in Las Vegas for Saturday night's dangerous contest against Manny Pacquiao, pauses as his alliterative jag hits the wall.

"Fast, fiery, ferocious …" he repeats with a grin before turning to his trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr, an enigmatically poetic former boxer and cocaine-dealing convict who will be in his corner as Hatton faces the world's best fighter. "Hey Floyd," Hatton yells, "give me another F-word – and 'fuck' ain't allowed."

"Flower," the battered old trainer drawls.

"Flower?" Hatton snorts.

"You know, Ricky, with your power, you gonna open him up like a flower," Mayweather riffs in his slurred and gravelly voice. "Fresh and funky, a killer bee taking the honey, and the money, as the PacMan falls to the floor, looking as bad and sad as a faded flower."

"It's a bit too flowery for me, Floyd," Hatton deadpans as the sweat rolls down his face and he rips the bandages from his hands after another draining sparring session. "Now I know why I never made it as a poet. But I tell you what. This might only be a £7 haircut on me head but I feel like a million dollars today."

Hatton will earn considerably more in the ring this weekend; but the odds are against him feeling anything but hurt and defeated after a potentially distressing contest. "It's going to be tough," the 30-year-old admits with sudden seriousness, the laughter dying at the back of his throat. "I'm up against the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He's very experienced, very aggressive, very determined. He's also very confident. But you'd expect that when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya just over four months ago. I still fancy it, though."

Pacquiao, who has been fighting professionally since 1995, when he was only 16 and having left home in the Philippines after his father reputedly ate his dog, has won world titles in four different categories from flyweight to lightweight. He will meet Hatton in a division, light-welterweight, where the Englishman has never lost. But the smaller PacMan looked brutally effective when destroying De La Hoya at welterweight last December. Pacquiao has an apparently seamless ability to move up and down the weight classes, without losing any speed and power, so why does Hatton believe he will crumble inexplicably on Saturday night?

"He's coming off a huge win but that could be his undoing. With the greatest respect to my promoter and friend, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny fought a shell of a man. Most decent fighters would've beaten Oscar because he was so weight-drained he could do nothing. And so Manny looked sensational and that's given a false impression. I also think Manny and [his trainer] Freddie Roach are watching too many tapes of the old Ricky Hatton. They're seeing the Ricky Hatton of a few years ago, the slugger and brawler, rather than the Ricky Hatton of today who uses hand speed, defence, combinations and head movement."

Hatton still makes much of his common touch, stressing earnestly how much it matters to him that his thousands of fans descending on Vegas this week regard him "as an ordinary bloke – and their mate". But it is telling that, as his career draws to its close, the otherwise amiable Mancunian has become hopelessly seduced by that celebrity sportsman's fatal flaw of referring to himself in the third person. Does Ricky Hatton know that his constant references to "Ricky Hatton" are the most likely precursor to a night of painful hubris against Pacquiao's blazing fists?

"I'm just pointing out the differences between me as a fighter now compared to a few years ago," Hatton insists. "I'm much better now and Floyd has a lot to do with that – he's brought me to a higher level by calming me and making me focus on skills and movement rather than raw aggression. I needed that change."

It's a curious irony that his new trainer's son, Floyd Mayweather Jr, did most to dismantle Hatton's belief when ruining his previously unbeaten record and knocking him out in December 2007 in a much-hyped welterweight bout. Like Pacquiao, the currently retired Mayweather Jr was the world's undisputed best pound-for-pound fighter. The build-up to his fight with Hatton was a thrilling six-week affair but soon after the opening bell the gulf in class between two contrasting fighters became disturbingly plain. Hatton's vociferous supporters should be concerned that the pattern might repeat itself – even if Mayweather is a more skilled technician than Pacquiao. The devastation Hatton experienced against Mayweather flits across his usually cheerful face as he remembers the consequences of that terrible night.

"I was shaken up by it," he concedes, "and it took me a good couple of months to get over it. It shattered my confidence for a while and I lost my passion for boxing. I started panicking a bit, thinking I'd lost it all."

Did he come close to retiring? "Very much so," Hatton says as he closes the distance between two of his fingers to a minuscule gap. "I was this close to quitting. But I didn't want to go out like that. So I had a confidence-boosting fight against [Juan] Lazcano [in Manchester last May]. I won easily but it didn't make me feel any better. I then decided to split with [long-time trainer] Billy Graham but even when I was preparing to work with Floyd I thought, 'Am I past it?' I was shitting myself to be honest and I just didn't want to go into my first training camp with Floyd."

Hatton finally began working with Mayweather last September and, two months later, he produced an improved performance – albeit it against the light-hitting Paulie Malignaggi. "I outboxed him and stopped him in the 11th round, and no one had ever done that to Malignaggi. Floyd made that difference. And in this camp we've moved to another level because we're even more comfortable with each other.

"We're working so much more on skills and defence and that's going to shock Manny most of all. He's expecting bang-crash-wallop from me but I'm planning on something different – even if in the end he can be sure to get a few wallops because he's pretty easy to hit. His aggression means he leaves himself very open."

Hatton jumps on a cheering reminder that, far from being impregnable, Pacquiao has been hurt in the past. Against Juan Manuel Márquez, with whom he drew and then won a rematch in a disputed split-decision, Pacquiao was wobbled badly by a left hook. "Oh yeah, I saw that one. I've seen Manny knocked down by body shots from people nowhere near as big as me. I'm going to hit him a lot harder than some of these smaller guys who've pushed him."

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Erik Morales in 2005 when, in a super-featherweight contest, the Mexican matched him for aggression. He avenged that defeat by knocking out Morales in their two rematches – but their first fight offered a template on how best to fight the Filipino whirlwind. "Exactly," Hatton nods. "Morales was the last guy to beat Pacquiao – and he was the last guy to pressure him. I'm going to put much more pressure on Pacquiao than Morales did at super-featherweight. And my punches are going to hurt him much more."

It's hard to share that conviction – especially as Pacquiao is at his peak while Hatton has been in decline since his career-defining victory over Kostya Tszyu four summers ago. Years of hard drinking between fights have also diluted Hatton's ability to maintain his once voracious work rate for 12 punishing rounds. But, in bursts, the Hitman remains a withering body-puncher who clearly hopes that his more rigorous training under Mayweather will allow him to approach the intensity he harboured on the night he stopped Tszyu.

"I've got the same feeling now as then," he argues. "No one thought I was going to beat Tszyu because he was an animal who hadn't lost in years. He was pretty frightening."

That particular F-word, "frightening", might best describe an encounter with a human threshing-machine in Pacquiao. Hatton reaches up to tenderly stroke his nose again as he considers the word. "Tszyu was a frightening fighter but I wasn't frightened of him, if you know what I mean. The same goes for Pacquiao. He looks frightening against some fighters. But he's beaten lots of small men, and a faded force in Oscar, and so I don't feel frightened. I'm looking forward to it because this is a night that will decide where I stand among the great fighters."

Hatton has always been a very good fighter but he risks being exposed in the same stark manner of his defeat against Mayweather. His career has been fantastically successful but this might be, yet again, a fight too far for a brave and admirable boxer.

"We'll see," he says quietly, looking up with a steely gaze. "I don't see this as the finish. I think I'm going to surprise a lot of people."

The Hitman sounds resolute but on Saturday night this pale and aging fighter is heading for a dark and unforgiving place. Defeat against the formidable Pacquiao will be less a failure than a final realization that it is time for Hatton to step away from the ring.


Social Bookmarking

No comments:

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

Blog Disclaimer

Ricky Hatton vs Manny Pacquiao is a personal blog that aims to share online information about the upcoming fight. This blog is a collaborative effort of individuals who are currently registered members of other online community sites. Ricky Hatton vs Manny Pacquiao does not claim any form of ownership or copyright in the materials found in this blog. Most of the contents featured in this blog come from other sites. The said materials are owned by those sites where these resources are posted.