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Monday, April 6, 2009

Ricky Hatton in shape of his life ahead of Manny Pacquiao showdown

Ricky Hatton, a week into his training camp in the Mojave Desert in Nevada insisted yesterday that physically he is in the shape of his life, and psychologically, could not be more confident given the sounds coming out of the camp of Manny Pacquiao across the state line in Los Angeles.

The posters are already up and billboards being fitted at the hotels of New York New York and the fight hotel, the MGM Grand, on The Strip as Sin City gears up for the biggest boxing showdown of the year, and the Mancunian's fifth Nevada sojourn.

Hatton looks lean in the face already. "I am. It's funny, really. In Hollywood, last week, doing the press conference there, lots of Filipino interviewers and television crews were asking me 'Ricky, you are in good shape already, are you overtraining?' "One minute I'm too fat, the next minute I'm too lean in people's eyes. The truth is that I am ahead of schedule, I wanted to be in good shape for when I started my sparring, and running up the hills in Mount Charleston out here in Las Vegas, and because of the size of this fight, I wanted to be in top shape," he explained, speaking exclusively to Telegraph Sport. Hatton will take on his third day of sparring today.

"I'm 10 pounds over the [140lb light-welterweight] limit at the minute, my diet is fantastic now, and you need that because there is nothing worse than doing a gruelling training session and having to watch what you put in your mouth afterwards," he mused, relaxed and in good humour in his apartment in a gated complex five minutes from The Strip. "And there is no chance I'm overtraining. I feel very good, very relaxed and where I wanted to be at this point."

But Hatton insists he has learnt lessons from Oscar De La Hoya, who lost too much weight, too early, before he faced Pacquiao last December. Unmistakably a much bigger man naturally than Pacquiao, the American ended up entering the ring on the night lighter than the Filipino braveheart. And how it told as Pacquiao, clinically, picked De La Hoya apart in eight painful rounds. It is a mistake Hatton insists he will not make.

"De La Hoya was a prime example of that [losing too much weight too early]. Oscar is a great friend of mine, but he made mistakes before that fight. He got down to early and was unable to put the weight back on. What Oscar did makes me more determined not to make the same mistake. I'm 140lbs when I step on the scales and within hours I'm back to 148/149lbs."

For Hatton's fifth fight in Las Vegas – Juan Urango, Jose Luis Castillo, Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Paulie Malignaggi, and now Manny Pacquiao – the structure has changed again. "I think we have found the perfect structure now – but in boxing, football, whatever sport, the more experience you get, the more you develop your camp.

I think the first time I fought in the States [his second professional contest against Roberto Alvarez in 1997 at Madison Square Garden] I came over five days before the fight. For the Las Vegas fights, it has gone from nine days, to two weeks, to being five weeks for the second time. It hurts me to be away. I'm a homeboy, I make no secret of that fact, but I know being away in camp gives me the right results."

While Hatton and Pacquiao remain guarded in their comments about each other, which rarely stretch beyond simple platitudes and a mutual respect as sportsmen, the battle of wills, of egos, between the trainers continues apace.

Hatton revealed that he did not take it too seriously, but drew a telling conclusion from the demeanour of Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer. Hatton said: "I laugh at it [their rivalry and verbal spats]. Manny was laughing at it, too. We had a luncheon in Los Angeles with the press and Floyd and Freddie were going at it – not fisticuffs – but the verbal stuff. A few insults were traded. They are the two best trainers in the world, from whichever angle you look at it, and people have different opinions about who is the best. They want to get one over on each other."

Both, of course, are also former boxers.

Yet Hatton revealed: "I like the things Freddie is saying. Freddie is without doubt a nice man, who says very little generally, but not for this one. When people start to act out of character, it says to me that Floyd has got under his skin. For me, that is a good sign, of Freddie is getting his back up. But I don't share Floyd's comments that he is the 'joke coach Roach'. I have great respect for him, but I felt a bit insulted when he said in Los Angeles that Manny will win in three rounds."

"Manny is a good puncher, and he punches hard enough to knock anyone out, but when he [Roach] says three rounds, I feel a bit insulted. Bearing in mind that he has fought a lot smaller men than me, and I have been in with a few monsters, Manny would look like one The Borrowers stood next to Luis Collazo, for example."

"I'm not saying Manny can't knock me out, but if anyone is going to win in three rounds, I think I would be the safer bet to do that to him. That's my opinion, and hearing Freddie say that fills me with confidence." With fight night less than four weeks away, Hatton could not be in a better place.


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1 comment:

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In your opinion, how will the Pacquiao-Hatton fight will end?

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