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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hatton, Pacquiao make grand Vegas entrances

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) - - Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao made spectacular public arrivals before cheering supporters on Tuesday, starting the countdown to their junior welterweight boxing showdown here on Saturday.

Pacquiao supporters jammed the hotel lobby at Mandalay Bay to cheer on the Philippines star while flag-waving Hatton backers chanted as the "Hitman" from England walked into a small ring set up in the MGM Grand Lobby.

Pacquiao, considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, risks that status against Hatton, whose linear junior welterweight title is up for grabs and would make the Filipino hero only the second six-division champion.

"I don't want to talk too much before the fight," Pacquiao said. "I want to let my fists do the talking in the ring."

Hatton waved and joked with the crowd as he struck poses for photographers.

"I may be fat and I may be round but guess who is going to be the best pound-for-pound?" Hatton told the crowd.

Minutes after the glitz and glamour, Hatton worked out in the arena ahead of the fight and spoke briefly in the same ring where he was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather in 2007 in his only loss and only welterweight fight.

"I've never felt this relaxed and confident," Hatton said. "The Mayweather fight, I got caught up in all of the hullabaloo. I have not lost too many rounds let alone any fights at 140 pounds."

Hatton was impressed with the turnout of British fans especially given the tough economic times.

"If you look at that turnout five days before the fight with the way the economy is in Britain - it's as bad as it has been in a while - it's as great an accomplishment as any fight may have been," Hatton said.

"The British are head and shoulders the best fans in boxing, paying their money to come. And this time we've got the Filipinos as well so it should be even bigger."

Hatton dismissed the idea that his addition of some technical improvements under trainer Floyd Mayweather Snr has changed his basic attacking style in the ring.

"He has not fought anyone who is going to be as powerful and ferocious and aggressive as me," Hatton said. "Technically I have added a few things. I don't think I've changed a lot. This is the best Ricky Hatton has ever been."

While some expect Hatton to revert to attacker and skip the boxing moves in the fight, Hatton thinks Pacquiao might do the same.

"He comes in with that passion," Hatton said. "If you think Ricky could resort, so could Manny."


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