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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pacquiao ready to perform for Filipinos

Arum says southpaw will go down as one of the best in boxing history

Manny Pacquaio already was an international icon before his one-sided victory over Oscar De La Hoya in December, but his one-sided beatdown of the “Golden Boy” in Las Vegas cemented his status as boxing’s pound-for-pound king.

“It was different after I beat De La Hoya,” Paquiao said during a teleconference Friday, searching for the right words to convey how his extreme popularity in the Philippines reached yet another level after his dominant win over De La Hoya. “It’s hard to describe. But there was even a different feeling back home.”

Next Saturday the stakes climb even higher as the former four-weight world champion faces British boxing sensation Ricky Hatton in a megabout at the MGM Grand.

“For me, this is not a regular fight," said Pacquiao, who is about to wrap up his training camp at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club and head to Las Vegas.

"I consider this fight to be the toughest of my boxing career. After all he is undefeated at 140 pounds."

Indeed Hatton, the IBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight champ, poses a serious threat, as his 45-1 record with 32 knockouts attests.

Then factor in that “The Hitman” is now in his second training camp with Floyd Mayweather Sr., and showed flashes of their new techniques during his win over Paulie Malignaggi in November. Hatton has the skills to upset the heavy betting favorite.

“Ricky Hatton is a kind of different fighter to what I have been fighting before. He's a good and strong fighter,” said Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs). “I know he has a very strong left hand and I have to take care of that and focus on that.

"I've studied a lot of techniques for him. I don't want to tell anyone what. I want to keep it a surprise, what we have been doing in training."

While Pacquiao said he believes Hatton has picked up a few tricks from the talkative Mayweather Sr., he said their less-than-a-year partnership is too short a time period to change Hatton enough to be victorious on May 2.

“I believe a fighter can change his style but not right away. It takes more time to change your style," Pacquiao said.

"In my career, I don't want to change my style. I just want to apply some techniques to improve my style. I believe I'm improving."

The 30-year-old also said he’s not worried about Hatton’s slight benefit in size or his perceived power advantage.

“I don't care if he's bigger or stronger," said the reigning fighter of the year. "Boxing is more than that. It's also mental and about the quickness of your mind and quickness of your body. That's very important.

"Speed is very important."

So much so that Top Rank chief Bob Arum not only believes Hatton will have no answer for Pacquiao’s quickness, but also that his rare combination of speed and explosiveness ranks him on a short list of the best fighters of all time.

"I personally have never seen such explosiveness combined with speed in all my years of boxing," said Arum, who has promoted the likes of De La Hoya, Marvin Hagler and Floyd Mayweather Jr. "I believe Manny's body of work establishes him as one of the best fighters in the history of boxing."

As is always the case with Pacquiao, he said his place in history will take care of itself, and that he’s only worried about putting on a top performance for his nation, and international following, of fans.

"All I'm trying to do is give happiness and enjoyment to the people," he said.


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