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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Manny Pacquiao to feel Ricky Hatton's 'Art of War' in Las Vegas

Manny Pacquiao, Filipino idol, enthroned as pound for pound No 1 in most observers lists, after an extraordinary year in 2008, stands in front of him.

"I'm in an ideal place," insisted Ricky Hatton from the IBA gym in Las Vegas. One more sparring session today, and a quiet week before the media cavalcade descends on The Strip, and the MGM Grand is transformed into a symposium for boxing fans and writers for six days.

"I've had an 11-week training camp, and I could not get any sharper. All I need now is a short rest just to get it all back. I've had the best sparring partners, and my timing, sharpness, right. I'm in the perfect place."

"Tactically, I think I know what he will be up to. He throws one/two, shuffles in with his feet, he could cause you problems but if you get adjusted, fine. I don't see a versatile fighter [in Manny Pacquiao]. Four or five fights ago I was easy to read, but not now."

Hatton has instilled a self-belief based on fierce aggression - and a style and size he believes Pacquiao will not have encountered in his 14-year career.

"I don't think Manny has fought anyone as fiery, ferocious, rough," said the Mancunian folk hero. "Ricky Hatton is a handful for anyone and is all over you...there is no doubt in my mind. I've never been more certain, more confident. I'm stronger than him, rarely do I have a height advantage, although it is minute, and I have a huge strength and power advantage."

While critics will no doubt insist, if he does triumph, that Hatton does not automatically move to the No 1 pound for pound position, the British light-welterweight who has been the dominant fighter in the world's 140lb division for four years, knows in his own mind that a goal he set himself long ago will be chalked up on his 'to-do' list as accomplished.

"I hope to claim the number 1 pound for pound spot," said Hatton. "Manny has beaten Juan Manuel Marquez, the pound for pound number 2, twice. If I beat Manny Pacquiao, I believe I should go to the top pound for pound spot in the world. If I do what I do best, I will have too much in every area for Manny. I could not be more positive about the outcome of this fight."

According to Hatton, this will be no drawn-out affair. "I don't see it being a distance fight. Manny goes for the KO, I go for the KO. I expect it to be very explosive than a drawn out affair. Manny is not the most elusive and he will probably say the same about me. Anyone who engages in a fight, like Manny, brings dangers for me, but I believe he will come second best."


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