Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
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During a blistering two-day U.K. media tour, superstars Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Ricky “Hitman” Hatton set the tone for their world junior welterweight “The Battle of East and West” championship set for Saturday, May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and broadcast live on HBO Pay-Per-View. The fighters started in Hatton’s hometown of Manchester and finished yesterday in London. They were joined by their respective trainers Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather, Sr, as well as US-based promoters Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
Here is a sampling of quotes from the tour.
“I appreciate Manny traveling all of this way to come to England and especially Manchester to help promote this fight. He’s a great fighter and I am looking forward to the challenge.
“I am unbeaten at 140 pounds, and believe I am unbeatable at this weight.
“This is a fight between two nice men, but there is nothing nice about either me or Manny when we get inside the ring.
“I am fighting for the pound-for-pound title and this is what I want more than anything. The last time I had a chance to fight for pound-for-pound title, I did okay. I came in second
“But fighting before was at 147 pounds and I don’t think I am big enough at that weight. Now I have a chance to fight at 140 pounds and that is my weight.
“This reminds me a bit of when I fought Kostya Tsyzu. No one gave me a chance against him and that seems like a long time ago. I truly believe I am a much better fighter now too.
“When I fought Tsyzu, I bulldozed him into submission. I think you could see from my last fight, with Floyd Mayweather, Sr. and a new team around me, that my style is different and better. I think I proved in my last fight that I have a much better jab, a stronger punch and speed too.
“Both of us don’t go backwards and I think that is the key to the fight. Whoever ends up going backwards is going to lose.
“‘We both have very exciting and aggressive styles and this fight is going to be tremendous.
“I noticed in some of Manny’s recent fights, his opponents were a bit worried about his aggression. That is not going to happen with me. I won’t be bothered by his aggression and feel ready to take it on.
“The last time someone wasn’t worried about his aggressive style and fought him back was Erik Morales. And Manny lost that fight
“I’m in fantastic condition already. That just shows how much I’m up for this fight.
“Manny shuffles in and out and tries to bring you onto the punch. I have good footwork and I think I can bring him on to my shots.
“Sometimes he comes in square and goes for broke which leaves him open to be hit. If he leaves himself open there is no reason why I shouldn’t be confident.
“Manny has been floored by body shots and might be vulnerable there. Two of the big keys will be my size and strength.
“He did beat Oscar who is bigger than me, but he had nothing that night. If I had boxed Oscar then I would have beat him even quicker.
“We both have great fans and we will be fighting our hearts out for them that night. I want to do the U.K. proud and come home victorious.”
This was a first time visit for Pacquiao to the U.K. and he was quite excited to be visiting the country. Thinking he was coming into the opponent’s territory, Pacquiao was very surprised to see his Filipino people every place he went during his stay. Inasmuch as the Manchester press conference was open to the public, literally thousands of Filipinos came early to wait for their native son, who is easily the most popular figure in his country today. They gave Hatton’s hometown fans a run for their money and Pacquiao was overwhelmed by the support. The same phenomenon occurred in London, when Pacquiao attended Sunday Mass at Westminister Cathedral, a community event the same day, and a visit to the Philippines Embassy immediately following the press conference.
Here are his comments about the fight and his visit.
“This is my first time in England. I am very surprised and overwhelmed by the turnout of all of the Filipino people. I would like to thank everyone for turning out.
“I am amazed by the support I have been shown. I did not expect it in Manchester because this is Ricky’s home town, where I know he is loved. I appreciate my supporters coming to see me.
“I was surprised to see so many of my people in Manchester. I think Ricky Hatton was surprised to see them too. Although it is Hatton’s place, I think Manchester is now ‘Mannychester!’
“The fight will be a great challenge because Ricky is a great fighter. It will be a once in a lifetime fight, the kind you only see once in boxing history.
“This is a smart match. For Ricky and me because of our styles. He is smart and strong too.
“I know what Ricky’s weaknesses are and I have begun to train for them. His strength is his left uppercut, but I can handle that, too.
“Hatton hits very hard, has a strong left hand and a good uppercut too. I must and will train very hard.
“My trainer Freddie Roach is my best friend.
“I feel strong at 140, 145, 147. The weight is fine for me.
“Hatton is bigger than I am but this isn’t about big. It’s about punching hard and being effective.
“There is a respect for Hatton and his team but in the ring it is all different. There are no timeouts.
“Like all of my fights, I dedicate this fight to my country. I remember as a little boy. I ate one meal a day and sometimes slept in the street. I will never forget that and it inspires me to fight hard, stay strong and remember all of the people of my country trying to achieve better for themselves.
“My first fight gave me one dollar (50 pesos). I gave the dollar to my mother.”
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Pacquiao vs. Hatton “The Battle of East and West,” promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, in association with MP Promotions and Hatton Promotions is a 12-round bout for Hatton’s IBO junior welterweight title. Remaining tickets, priced at $1,000, $750, $500, $300 and $150, can be purchased through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available online at www.mgmgrand.com.
The Pacquiao vs. Hatton pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $49.95.