JANUARY 6, 2009
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Erik Morales Once again, Mexican boxing hero Erik Morales is putting his name, his reputation or even his friendship with Manny Pacquiao on the line.

After missing out on his prediction that Pacquiao will have no chance against Oscar dela Hoya, the pride of Tijuana is now saying that the Filipino megastar will fall short against Ricky Hatton.

“Hatton has a good punch and he’s fast,” Morales, who fought three classic fights against Pacquiao in 2005 and 2006, was quoted by Mexican paper Esto as saying.

Morales beat Pacquiao the first time they met, a bloody 12-round decision, at the MGM Grand, but lost the next two fights by knockout at the Thomas and Mack Center.

He thinks he knows Pacquiao too well that this early, the last boxer to beat the current pound-for-pound champion is putting his money on Hatton.

“I can bet you that he wins,” said Morales, an excellent tactical fighter and future Hall of Famer, said of Hatton, the pride of Manchester.

Hatton and Pacquiao are all set to figure in a big showdown on May 2 with the British slugger putting his 140-pound IBO crown on the line.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, stakes his pound-for-pound title, a nine-match winning streak and his reputation as the greatest, most exciting fighter today on the line.

Morales, who became friends with Pacquiao after the Mexican did a series of commercials in the Philippines, is not with him this time.

Morales wasn’t on Pacquiao’s side, too, when the 30-year-old Filipino fought Dela Hoya exactly a month ago in Las Vegas.

“Pacquiao would get tired after six or seven rounds and will have nothing more left in him,” Morales told the press heading to the Pacquiao-Dela Hoya match that drew 1.4 million pay-per-view hits.

But Pacquiao proved him, and the other non-believers, wrong when he forced Dela Hoya into submission after eight brutal rounds of their 147-pound contest.

Another former champion, welterweight Carlos Palomino, now 59, has issued an early forecast, and like Morales is betting on Hatton.

“At 140 pounds, I think Hatton is too strong for Manny. He’d put too much pressure on Manny,” said Palomino, who lost his welterweight crown to Wilfred Benitez via a 15-round decision in 1979.

Hatton to train 12 weeks for bout Updated January 03, 2009 12:00 AM

If Manny Pacquiao thinks eight or nine weeks of training would be enough, then the Filipino pound-for-pound champion should wait until he hears this.

Ricky Hatton will train 12 weeks for his May 2 showdown with Pacquiao.

According to the British press, the 30-year-old Hatton, who has only lost once in 46 fights, will start training early February in UK, before moving over to Seattle and finally wrapping it up in Las Vegas weeks before the fight.

Hatton’s only loss came against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December of 2007. Ironically, it will be Floyd Mayweather Sr. who will train the “Hitman” from Manchester in his fight against Pacquiao.

Hatton holds the IBO light-welterweight crown. The fight will mark the first time Pacquiao will fight in the 140-pound class. He fought and crushed Oscar dela Hoya at 147 pounds last month, and only last June knocked out David Diaz at 135 pounds.

For Dela Hoya, Pacquiao trained at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, under Freddie Roach, for nine weeks. Normally he trains for eight weeks.

The stakes are high for both Pacquiao and Hatton since both fighters have openly said they’re close to retirement. And a victory for either one opens the gate to a huge match with the “now-retired-but-soon-to-fight” Mayweather Jr.

Pacquiao, also 30, and Hatton stand to earn the biggest purse in their respective careers, with the Filipino expected to top the $10 to $15 to $20 million he earned against Dela Hoya, and the Briton hoping to surpass the $10 million he pocketed against Mayweather Jr.

The fight is being set at either the Thomas and Mack Center or the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Hatton had wanted to bring it to England, and fight Pacquiao before a hundred thousand screaming, drinking fans at the Wembley Stadium.

But Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, shot it down even before it could take off, saying that in England “you have to stage the fight at five in the morning (to capture the primetime audience in the US), and in an open venue with 90 percent of rain.”

Reports said HBO (cable giant Home Box Office) was also against staging the fight in England. – Abac Cordero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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