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Sunday, April 26, 2009

PacMan to win by a KO

On Sunday (Manila time), boxing fans in the Philippines and other parts of the globe, like the United States and the United Kingdom, will be treated to a mega bout that could be worthy of comparison and hype to the great fights of the last century: Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier I and III; Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns; and Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello, among others.

Expect a thrilling brawl when boxing superstars Manny “PacMan”Pacquiao of the Philippines and Ricky Hatton of Britain clash for their much-awaited super fight dubbed “Battle of East and West” on May 2 in Las Vegas.

“This fight will be short and sweet,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach as he predicted an early knockout by Pacquiao.

Roach said Hatton is expected to force the action but Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 by knockout) would respond in kind while sticking to the “game plan,” only Team Pacquiao knows at this time.

“Manny has speed, power and boxing ability—so I think he will overwhelm Ricky in this fight,” said Roach, who has been Pacquiao’s trainer for eight years. “Ricky’s a tough guy, no doubt about that. He’s a great fighter, he’s tough, and he comes to fight.”

Size, power factors

But Hatton said his edge in size and power, plus the fact that he has not lost as a junior welterweight in 12 years, would decide the outcome of the fight.

“I honestly believe that I cannot be beaten at this weight and that I will have a huge advantage in terms of size and power,” Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) said in his Yahoo! blog.

Hatton said that in between the weigh-in and fight night, he would probably put on 14 pounds and thus be “significantly heavier” than Pacquiao.

Roach said he expects his prized Filipino student to “fight the perfect fight the same way he did against David Diaz and Oscar De la Hoya.”

Las Vegas and online betting lines, meanwhile, continue to be in at least 2-1 in Pacquiao’s favor.

The latest odds show that a $215 bet on the best boxer Filipino in the world, pound-for-pound best, wins only $100. In contrast, a $100 bet on Hatton will yield $185.

A better Pacquiao

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, said he expects the Filipino icon to be a lot better than he was when he pounded De La Hoya in their December 6 “Dream Match.”

“I’ve never seen a better Manny Pacquiao,” said Arum.

“Believe me, the Manny Pacquiao that will be in the ring against Ricky Hatton is a better fighter than the one that went in the ring against Oscar De La Hoya,” Arum said

“Manny keeps on improving from fight-to-fight which to me shows that we have a fighter who’s still not yet at his peak. What usually happens is that fighters, they reach a particular peak before they hit a plateau and decline. But Manny hasn’t peaked yet. He’s getting better.”Arum added.

Intense training

Pacquiao, PacMan to his legions of fans worldwide, said he is excited about fighting a Briton for the first time and is pushing himself to the limit in training because he knows Hatton is doing the same thing.

“I want to be ready for everything Hatton brings to the ring,” said Pacquiao who spars 12 rounds with three or four different people as his team pushed his training a notch higher.

“I’m in great shape, my body is ready for whatever tempo the fight takes to,” Pacquiao said, hinting he is ready counter Hatton’s aggressiveness and to fight fire with fire.

He said he can’t underestimate Hatton, who he described as a “great and tough fighter.”

Pacquiao said he is comfortable at 140 lbs, adding he does not consider the weight issue to be at his disadvantage, because did not have any problem fighting De la Hoya at welterweight.

Hatton wants decisive win

Hatton said he would go for a “decisive win” against Pacquiao.

“[Pacquiao’s] been shaken up several times. He’s been stopped twice by body shots,” Hatton said, referring to Pacquiao’s two knockout losses early in his career.

“He’s improved technically. I hope that he’s improved on that body and that chin because he’s going to get hit by the biggest man that he’s ever fought. I don’t think that fight is going to be won on points,” the British junior welterweight slugger said.

Hatton said he and Pacquiao are the type of fighters who generally don’t win by decision because of their explosive, forward-moving style of fighting.

“This fight won’t go to the scorecards—I’m quite sure of that,” Hatton said.

Veteran Filipino sportswriter Hermie Rivera said Pacquiao is in tremendous form as he described the way PacMan “mangled” his sparring partners, forcing Roach to bring in bigger sparmates who could withstand Manny’s power.

‘Rousing brawl’

“For sure, fans will be treated to a rousing brawl in this pairing of a British whopper against a Filipino whacker,” said Rivera, a Bay Area-based ring cognoscenti.

Besides unbeaten lightweight standout Urbano Antillon (25-0, 18 KOs), Pacquiao’s current sparring mates are junior welterweight knockout artist Mike Alvarado (25-0, 18 KOs) and welterweight Ray-mond Serrano (9-0, 5 KOs).

Roach said the one thing that Pacquiao should avoid is to be pushed to the ropes or the corner by Hatton where he could unleash his crunching left hook to the body or the head.

“His left hook is Ricky’s best weapon, and he uses it well on the ropes,” Roach said. “But in the middle of the ring, he’ll never catch us.”

Rousing ending

With both fighters obsessed over getting into their best shape, the fight is expected to have a rousing ending, which will make it worthy to be categorized as being one of the best and memorable fights in pugi- listic history. And if Pacquiao wins, his place among boxing’s greats will definitely be cemented.


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