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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pacquiao and Hatton ready for Vegas boxing spotlight

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) - - Manny Pacquiao avoided Manila's distracting delights to train in Hollywood so he could better focus upon what he needs to do to win Saturday's showdown fight with England's Ricky Hatton.

After working out for weeks next door to a Thai restaurant where he would eat dinner, the Filipino boxing star has found his focus and is confident he can become a champion in a record-matching sixth different weight division.

"If that happens, people will look at me as my name is on the list with the greatest legends in boxing history and that will be my legacy," Pacquiao said.

"It's very important to me to win six. It's a big honor for my country."

Pacquiao, 48-3 with two drawn and 36 knockouts, and Hatton, 45-1 with 32 knockouts, are set to make their arrivals in Las Vegas on Tuesday to begin the final countdown for a highly anticipated junior welterweight title bout.

"Right now I'm ready to fight. My mind is very complete. I'm into the fight," Pacquiao said. "I can focus more in Hollywood than the Philippines. If I train in the Philippines there are lots of activities, invitations, events."

Hatton has a size advantage while Pacquiao will count upon his superior speed to conquer the Hitman from Manchester, the linear division champion who has never lost at junior welterweight and fights for his own claim on history.

"As long as I'm remembered as one of the best we've ever had. I would be quite content," Hatton said. "People see me as excited in the ring and a good guy to boot. Thats how I'd like to be remembered."

Hatton suffered his only loss in Las Vegas when now-retired Floyd Mayweather stopped him in 2007 in a welterweight fight for the "pound-for-pound" crown now seen as belonging to Pacquiao after his victory over retired Oscar de la Hoya.

"This is the second time I've challenged the front pound-for-pound number one fighter," Hatton said. "We haven't had too many British fighters that could say they were the number one pound-for-pound fighter.

"To be mentioned in some of the same breath as some of Britains boxing heroes, that would be spectacular."

Thousands of noisy supporters flocked to Vegas for the Mayweather fight, creating a raucous atmosphere more like a Premiership match than a typical US title bout, singing and chanting for hours at the weigh-in as well.

"I would like to think I've brought some of the best atmosphere fights that Vegas has seen in recent years," Hatton said. "I don't think anybody has drawn an atmosphere and a fan base like that over to the United States."

Hatton knows it's vital he fight better than he fared against Mayweather in his biggest prior fight.

"Well, its very important because if I perform like I did last time, I'll get beat again," Hatton said.

Pacquiao has pressure of a different type, stressing that he fights for the honor of his nation. For a man whose bouts silence the weapons of Filipino soldiers, the tension is huge.

"The pressure is there but I don't want to put in my mind anything about that," Pacquiao said. "I want to focus on the work and try to make people happy with my performance."


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