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Monday, April 27, 2009

Pacquiao expects tough fight against Hatton

The magnitude of his fights increases with every victory, yet Manny Pacquiao somehow remains level headed. Pacquiao is not about to become bombastic toward an opponent while hyping a fight.

Already considered the world's best ''pound-for-pound'' fighter, Pacquiao sang praises about Ricky Hatton in a conference call Friday. Pacquiao anticipates a tough challenge from Hatton when they meet in a junior-welterweight fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.

''I expect Ricky Hatton to be in 100 percent condition,'' Pacquiao said. ``I don't want to give him confidence and tell him it's going to be an easy fight for me. It will be a hard fight.''

The ''I am better than you'' approach might have worked for Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao's predecessor as the preeminent ''pound-for-pound'' fighter. But although Mayweather's outward confidence propelled him to an unbeaten career before his abrupt retirement last year, Pacquiao lets performances dictate appeal and status.

Most boxing insiders now consider Pacquiao the sport's new pay-per-view attraction following his dominant victory over Oscar De La Hoya in December. In fact, Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, has noticed extra attention building up toward Saturday's bout.

''[The fight buildup] has gone past the boxing writers and sportswriters,'' Arum said. ``It is something that has captured the people's imagination.''

In his native Philippines, Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) already exceeds people's interests. Pacquiao has become a cult-like figure and his bouts virtually shut down the country.

''All I can do is for the honor of my country and my family,'' Pacquiao said. ``I want them to be happy with my performances.''

Already a two-division world champion when he faced Marco Antonio Barrera in November 2003, Pacquiao began his path to relevance with an 11th-round technical knockout victory.

Pacquiao followed the performance against Barrera with another convincing win in a rematch four years later. Pacquiao also scored two victories over Erik Morales, a close decision victory and draw against Juan Manuel Marquez and the lopsided performance over De La Hoya.

''I'm just doing what I can,'' said Pacquiao, now a world champion in four separate weight classes. ``I don't want to compare my abilities to anybody.''

Pacquiao realizes the added scrutiny considering his current status in the sport. Saturday's bout against Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) will be the first noteworthy pay-per-view boxing event of the year.

''The pressure is there but I don't want to put that on my mind,'' Pacquiao said. ``I just want to focus that everything goes well.

``Ricky Hatton is a different fighter than anyone I have fought before. Everybody knows his style. He wants to fight toe-to-toe and throw a lot of punches.

``Nobody knows what's going to happen in the fight. I just pray to the Lord he will help me on that night.''


Three minutes separated part-time Miami resident Jermain Taylor from another world title. Ahead on two judges' scorecards, Taylor failed to last the final round and lost a late 12th-round technical knockout against England's Carl Froch on Saturday in Mashantucket, Conn.

Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) survived a third-round knockdown, dropped Taylor in the 12th and finished him with a flurry of unanswered combinations near the ropes with 14 seconds remaining in the fight.

With the victory, Froch retained his World Boxing Council super-middleweight belt.

A former middleweight champion, Taylor is now 28-3-1 and has lost three of his past four fights.


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