By Nick Giongco
Fightnews: Pacquiao is trying to invade your territory and how does it feel like a once puny fighter is hurling a challenge to the boss of the 140-pounders?
Ricky Hatton: I think it is a fact that some fighters move up and down the scales a lot more than others and why that is I just don’t know. I have always been a light-welter and I will always be a light-welter, don’t ask me why. Most fighters get bigger with age but I don’t. Manny obviously has because he started off as a flyweight and fought Oscar at 147 which is incredible really. But one of the greatest fighters of all time Sugar Ray Leonard started off as something like a welterweight and ended up winning the light heavy world title. Roy Jones Jnr was a middle wasn’t he and won the world heavyweight title, so there you go. It is horses for course. Some fighters put on the pounds because they get naturally bigger and others don’t. It just so happens I don’t and Manny does. But that doesn’t mean I am in for an easy night does it? He is a great fighter end of story and he showed what he could do at welter against Oscar. Anyone who can do that to one of the pound for pound greatest fighters of all time deserves respect and Manny has got my respect no doubt about it.
Fightnews: When did you realize that you’d be fighting Manny Pacquiao someday?
Ricky Hatton: I think Manny has been on the radar now for some time. I wouldn’t say there was any one moment when I thought it has got to be Manny other than about a minute after he beat Oscar. The fight just makes sense for both of us doesn’t it. He has proved he can move up the weights and I have never even been close to getting beat at light-welter so there you go, perfect fight. Also, I think people are excited because Manny brings a lot to the table. He is a God in his home country and he is a great person with magnificent following. I have got the best fans in the world. We took 35,000 Brits to Las Vegas when I fought Floyd Mayweather. Nobody has ever seen anything like it in Vegas.
I think the fans want great fights and there is nothing g better out there than me versus Manny. I know Manny is a boxing fan and I am a boxing fan, so why would we not want to fight each other? I would pay to watch it. It is a 50:50 fight and those are always the best fights. Lots of people think I am going to win and lots of people think Manny will beat me. That is exactly what you want in the fight game. The best fighting the best.
Fightnews: What impresses you about Pacquiao?
Ricky Hatton: He is just an all-round brilliant fighter. He is quick, he has a good chin and he loves to get involved in a tear up. What more could you want? The job he did on Oscar was hugely impressive. He cut him down and barely got touched on the whiskers. Great fighters can punch and land and not get punched. You are not in the ring for a tickling contest.
Manny is the type of fighters I would love to pay to watch because he has a brilliant fluid style. He pops shots at you all the time. His stamina is immense and he breaks the heart of his opponents. He isn’t going to break mine.
Fightnews: What would be your regular training day for this fight with Pacquiao?
Ricky Hatton: I won’t change a thing in the build up to the fight. I’ll train like I always do. 100 per cent. The fact that I love training and sparring means it does not make it difficult. I am always open to new ideas, but I think I know my own body pretty well and when I get in the ring there are never any excuses about poor training. I am always in the best shape you could possibly get. Floyd Mayweather has added a whole new ball game to my training. He is trying to get me to relax a bit more and he has worked a lot on technique. I think it showed just how far we have come with the job I did on Paul Malignaggi in my last fight. I was quicker and stronger and I became the first boxer ever to stop him. Paulie is a tough bloke to catch in the ring because he is quick and gets out of trouble very sharply but I just kept nailing him and I will do the same to Manny. When I found out I was definitely fighting Manny next I was just so excited because I really believe my style is made to beat him. If he thinks he can stay out of my range he should look at the job I did on Malignaggi. Paulie thought the same thing but I caught up with him and finished him off.
Fightnews: What’s your normal fighting weight?
Ricky Hatton: I will weigh over 150lbs on the night of the fight, possibly as much as 154. I will be a lot bigger than Oscar when Manny fought him. I make the weight, 140, easily. I have always been a natural at light welter. A natural. I put on a bit of timber when I am not in full training but it comes off straight away. It always has. I have never worried about my weight because it has never been a worry to me. It is something which I was born with. I have no trouble taking it off and I have never had any weight issues. Obviously my best fighting weight is 140. I can’t change that.
Fightnews: What is your message to Pacquiao? What do you want to say to the Filipino people in relation with the Pacquiao fight?
Ricky Hatton: Manny Pacquiao is one of the all time great fighters, period. No doubt about it. I am his biggest fan. I watch all Manny’s fights and I have stayed up many times until the early hours to watch him. He is one of my absolute favourites. That doesn’t mean to say I am not going to beat him. I am in the ring to do a job and that job is to beat Manny at his own game. The Filipino fans are famous around the world for the support they give Manny and that will never change. He is a great person and your country is rightly very proud of what he has achieved in the ring. Nothing can ever take that away. I think the wonderful thing about Manny’s fans is that it shows how boxing can be such a great sport, to bring nations together. I know my fans will treat Manny’s fans with nothing but respect and I know that will be the same the other way around. Boxing fans are the best in the world and Manny should be rightly proud of the amazing support he has got from an amazing nation.
(Many thanks to Niall Hickman of the Daily Express of England for “arranging” the interview).