The highly anticipated title bout between Ricky Hatton and Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao is set to go down on Saturday (May 2) at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel.
But, one thing that boxing fans are going through is uncertainty. Not over quality or if it will be an exciting match-up, but whether Hatton’s power can prevail over the lightning quick speed Pac-Man possesses.
Pacquiao is widely regarded as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter, but he’s never competed in the 140-pound division — where Hatton is the reigning king. So, until the fight goes down, things are up in the air.
That same question was raised, however, when the Filipino boxer faced Oscar De La Hoya back in December 2008 and had to come up two weight classes to meet the Mexican legend. Despite adversity, Pacquiao manhandled De La Hoya. Given, Oscar was 35 years old and way past his prime.
Hatton, though, is in the prime of his career and is considered by many one of the sport’s toughest. De La Hoya seems to think Hatton has an advantage, not just in power, but also speed that he says rivals Pac-Man.
“I’ve seen Ricky fight and he has speed himself,” De La Hoya told Reuters this week. “There is speed and there is power with Hatton … I don’t know how much power Manny Pacquiao is going to present to Hatton or how it is going to affect him because Hatton is a solid 140-pounder.
“He walks around at 160, 165 and I was telling Ricky: ‘Look, the punches weren’t hard.'”
Hatton shares those same sediments, claiming that his natural size will work to his advantage. He also addressed criticism over claims he has problems with southpaws. He had a message to Pacquio’s camp about that.
“I just think that Pacquiao has underestimated me,” Hatton tells SI.com. “[Pacquiao’s camp] thinks I struggle with southpaws. If that’s their opinion, you know, don’t expect me to share their enthusiasm. They think Manny’s going to knock me out in three rounds.
“I think I started off against Kostya Tszyu as a 7-to-1 underdog … I know what I’m doing and I know what I’m capable of.”
Hatton is the underdog going into Saturday’s bout as well. Pac-Man, on the other hand, is the favorite, unlike his bout against De La Hoya. His biggest problem this time around is that everybody expects him to win.
Pacquiao’s camp isn’t worried though. His trainer Freddie Roach says it’s just given the boxer much more confidence, as well as concentrated his focus.
“The win over Oscar just gave him more confidence,” Roach told the Associated Press. “So many people said he couldn’t do it, but he did. Oscar could still beat a lot of guys, but he didn’t win a second of that fight.”
Pacquio is said to be coming off one of his toughest training camps. The fighter himself believes it’s his best ever.
“I believe that I am improving and everybody knows and can see that by my last few performances,” Pacquiao said.
But, he still recognizes the challenge ahead of him. He acknowledged what many others believe — that this bout against Hatton will be his toughest fight yet.
“For me, this is not a regular fight,” he said to Reuters, 48-3-2 (36 KOs). “I consider this fight to be the toughest of my boxing career. After all he is undefeated at 140 pounds.”
“I respect Manny, but should I really be scared of a fight with a man who’s had only two fights above 130 pounds?” Hatton asked. “Manny’s been hurt several times in the past, head shots and body shots, in smaller weight classes. And I haven’t even lost too many rounds at 140 pounds, let alone fights.”
The uncertainty and speculation will all come to a close in Vegas on Saturday though, when both fighters finally meet to answer all the questions — not with interviews, but with their gloves.