Monday, May 29, 2023  |


On the scene: Hatton ‘to shock world’

Fighters Network

Manny Pacquiao (left) and Ricky Hatton enjoy a light moment at the final news conference before their fight Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Photo / Chris

LAS VEGAS — Ricky Hatton reads the articles written about him and the fight on Web sites and in newspapers. He knows few “experts” give him much of a chance to beat Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand.

And it doesn’t faze him. He’s been in this position before.

No one gave him much of a chance to beat future Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu in 2005 and we all know what happened there: Tszyu quit on his stool after the 11th round after absorbing a brutal beating.

Since then, Hatton has lost only to Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 147 pounds, seven above his ideal weight, yet is dismissed by many as a crude brawler who will be overwhelmed by Pacquiao’s sheer ability and uncommon speed.

“I’m not really going to say to much,” he said, speaking before several hundred people Wednesday at the final news conference for the pay-per-view event. “I could tell you what my views are on the fight but I’ve done enough interviews. I’ve been reading on the Web sites and in that magazines and newspapers and I think you all have made your minds up already. It doesn’t scare me. I’ve been there before. I’m the overhyped, overprotected, you know, fat, beer-drinking Englishman.

“I’m going to shock the world again,” he continued, deadly serious. “I started off when I fought Kostya Tszyu when I first won this title in what seems like a lifetime away now. ÔǪ I think I started as a 5-1 underdog. So it doesn’t scare me.

“I’ll see you all – and Manny – at the center of the ring on Saturday night.”

Pacquiao was a -270 favorite (almost 3-1) on Wednesday at the MGM. Hatton was +230 to win.

Family matters: One of the nicest moments of the final news conference was when Pacquiao introduced his mother, Dionisia Pacquiao, who is in the United States for the first time.

He thanked everyone associated with the promotion before finally acknowledging her. A tiny woman, she stood up and beamed with pride as those in attendance applauded warmly. Clearly, she is excited to be a part of this.

However, she has never watched her son fight in person – and she doesn’t plan to start now. She’ll be watching on TV in her hotel room and praying.

“She is scared to watch it live,” Pacquiao said. “To have her here, it's going to give me more inspiration to do my best and win. It's going to be one of the best times I've had in my life.”

The soft-spoken woman said through an interpreter that in fact she’s only somewhat frightened. She’s confident in her son.

“I say Manny will definitely go all the way,” she said. “And I’m here to support him. I’m confident he’ll do it.”

Manny Pacquiao is devoutly religious and goes out of his way to be respectful to everyone. For example, regardless of the opponent, he always says “it’s nothing personal.” And now it’s clear where it came from.

“I taught him to always pray, always care about everyone, to be humble,” she said.

Pacquiao’s mother has for some time wanted to visit the U.S., which has become Pacquiao’s second home. He trains in Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood, Calif.

However, she hasn’t made the trip in part because of health issues. She received clearance from doctors to come this time.

“I love it,” she said of the U.S. “I’m overwhelmed. Everything is nice, just like people said about it. I wanted to come for a long time.”

The buzz: A lot of people who saw the Juan Manuel Lopez-Gerry Penalosa fight on TV last weekend were surprised to see that Roach, who trains both Pacquiao and Penalosa, had eliminated his thick head of hair and gotten a buzz cut.

The reason wasn’t profound.

“I wanted to look like you,” he said with a laugh, referring to writer Michael Rosenthal’s shaved head. “Ah, really, I needed a haircut and I was bored. So I just did it.”

New role: Oscar De La Hoya was always the focus of attention no matter where he was for the past decade-plus, a role with which he was not always comfortable. Imagine going through life with eyes following you wherever you go.

That has changed somewhat now that he’s retired.

On Wednesday, for example, focus was on Pacquiao and Hatton at the news conference except when De La Hoya – Hatton’s U.S. promoter – spoke at the lectern.

The Golden Boy says he’s happy in his new role.

“The more attention I can divert somewhere else, the happier camper I’ll be,” he said. “I had my glory days, I had my time. I’m content with what I’ve done. I still go places and people ask me for my autographs and take pictures. Now, I can control it, though. It’s not as crazy any more. ÔǪ

“It’s a huge relief, actually. … It’s like 500 pounds lifted off my back. Now I can look forward to letting the young guns carry the weight. There’s no more pressure trying to be perfect.”

De La Hoya on the fight: Of course, De La Hoya said he believes Hatton will win. He wouldn’t be much of a promoter if he said otherwise.

He gave specific reasons, though.

“I like Hatton, I really do,” he said. “I was telling Hatton ÔǪ obviously, I felt Manny’s punches when I fought him. They had sting on them. But I didn’t feel power at that weight [147 pounds]. I think he had power at 135 and I don’t know about 140. I was just telling Ricky that he shouldn’t be intimidated when people say he has so much power, that he can knock you out at 140.

“Speed is a concern; he’s a fast fighter. But I don’t think he should be concerned about Manny’s punching power.”

De La Hoya, who was trained by both Roach and Floyd Mayweather Sr. (Hatton’s trainer) also gave the edge to Hatton’s corner.

“If you ask me who’s better, sorry, but I have to go with Floyd Mayweather Sr.,” he said. “That’s no disrespect to Freddie. He’s a great trainer and I love him to death. Strategy-wise, though, Floyd is more-technically sound. He’s crazy, but he knows his craft.”

More De La Hoya: A representative of Tecate beer, one of the sponsors of the event, had just given a short speech and finished it by cracking open a can of Tecate and taking a sip.

De La Hoya took advantage of the moment.

“My mouth is watering,” he said, drawing laughs. “Hey, why not? I’m retired.

One more De La Hoya: He was marveling at the 60,000 fans Hatton drew for a fight in his hometown of Manchester, England, which reminded De La Hoya of the 45,000 he attracted when he fought Patrick Charpentier in El Paso in 1998.

The fighter-turned-promoter-turned-comedian drew more chuckles when he said during the formal portion of the news conference:

“They just love Ricky (in Manchester). When I saw 60,000 people in that arena, 60,000 people, it was incredible. I filled up a stadium with ÔǪ 45,000 for a fight we promoted. Those were women. [Pause during laughs] But 60,000 guys for Ricky Hatton? That’s admiration, that’s respect for him.”

Floyd Longfellow: Floyd Mayweather Sr. writes a lot of poetry in his free time, mostly to poke fun at the opponents of his fighter.

Here’s what he served up on Wednesday:

I am being for real and saying what I feel,
This is the truest quote that I ever wrote,
From the first to the last note,
Hey Pac,
It’s over, so quit wishing on a four-leaf clover,
You got a choice to make,
You're at the crossroads,
You gotta make up your mind,
You can go right or you can go left,
And you can't depend on nobody else,
We need to do what we need to do
It ain't personal between me and you,
Come May 2nd, you will be uncrowned with your head hanging down,
The pain and stress left to confess that the Hitman's the best,
So let’s make it simple and plain after this fight, Pac will never be the same,
It ain’t no diggity, it aint no doubt, Pac's gonna find out what it’s all about,
When he beat the ol’ legend Oscar De La Hoya,
He was over the hill,
Now it’s time for you to swallow the same damn pill,
So get your tickets now people and let’s make it clear,
That the Pacman ass woopin is almost here,
It ain’t no secret and I hope you know,
The Hitman Hatton by KO!