Manny Pacquiao. AP LAS VEGAS]

LAS VEGAS, MAY 1, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Far from his trash-talking trainer, Ricky Hatton reiterated his respect for Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao but couldn’t resist a final salvo in their Saturday showdown at the MGM Grand, saying he would prove his critics wrong.

“I think you have all made your mind up already. I have been reading what you have been saying and what everyone has been saying. That doesn’t scare me. I have been here before. I have been the underdog before,” said Hatton in Wednesday’s final press conference before a packed ballroom at the MGM Grand.

“I hear what you say. ‘He (Hatton) is an over-hyped, over-protected, fat beer-drinking Englishman. Guess what...that “he” is going to shock the world again.

“It doesn’t scare me being in this position. This is my weight division, but I understand that I am the underdog. I understand why people are picking on me especially since Manny Pacquiao is the number one pound for pound fighter in the world who just had an exceptional win over Oscar.

“They call this the Battle of East and West. And our worlds will collide in the ring on Saturday night,” he said.

In the same gathering, Hatton’s trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. called his counterpart, Freddie Roach, names.

“Freddie the joke, coach Roach,” was how Mayweather, up on the rostrum, greeted members of Team Pacquiao who were seated to his right.

“Or should I call you (a) cockroach?” he smiled, drawing some ooohs. “I’m just having fun about this, and I don’t know about you. I’m being real and saying what I feel.”

He went on reciting his poem that ended with, “It aint no secret and I hope you know, The Hitman Hatton by KO!”

Roach didn’t look amused, but when it was his turn, he spoke nothing else but of the fight. He showed class and was done in just a few seconds.

“We’ve had a great training camp and Manny’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen. I wish Ricky Hatton and his camp good luck,” was his very short counter-punch.

Later in the evening, in Pacquiao’s 60th floor suite, Roach said he’s just “gotten tired” of all the trash-talking.

“All the b... s..t, all the talking is bull shit. Sometimes he gets under my skin and I talk back because sometimes I can’t take it,” he said.

Pacquiao was in his usual self – soft-spoken and gentle.

“I am ready for the fight on Saturday. I know Ricky Hatton has trained hard for this fight. I have seen it on HBO’s 24/7. I respect Ricky Hatton. He is a good person. He is a nice guy and I would like to remind everyone that there is nothing personal for this fight and we are just doing our job to give a good fight to the people and make them happy,” he said.

Notes: There should be a deeper story on why Rob Peters, who handles security for Team Pacquiao, suddenly left for Los Angeles Wednesday morning and may have totally turned his back on the job he loves, or he loved, doing. Freddie Roach said Peters suddenly left “without any explanation” three days before the big fight. “Rob said he was tired and he wanted to go home. I told him that if he was tired, I have an extra bed in my room where he can rest. But he left, and I let him go,” said Roach. Peters reportedly called later in the day, saying he wanted to come back. But the door, it seems, has been shut. “You can’t just do that,” Roach added... Members of the Philippine basketall team which is here on a training stint, dropped by at Manny Pacquiao’s suite Wednesday evening, and had turns taking pictures with the boxing superstar. Among them were SBP executive director Noli Eala and his staff, Allan Gregorio, Butch Antonio and Rico Meneses, and players like JV Casio and CJ Giles, the import. The swine flu scare is not scaring off the promoters of this bluckbuster fight. “All signs are we’re going to have a successful promotion. And there’s no concern about it now,” said Golden Boy’s Oscar dela Hoya who co-promotes the fight with Bob Arum of Top Rank. There were news of the first detected case of swine flu in Nevada, on a two-year-old girl from Washoe County, and still there’s no cause for alarm among the promoters. “There’s nothing really much to worry because if people stay away from watching the fight live, it means they’ll be watching it on pay-per-view,” an observer said... Tickets to Saturday’s bout are all gone. On the internet, front-row seats now cost as much as $22,000 or almost a million pesos. A month ago, the highest priced ticket on the internet was at $8,000.

Oscar forecast: Showdown won't go full route Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Oscar dela Hoya]

LAS VEGAS — Oscar dela Hoya’s golden prediction is that Saturday’s mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton is not going last the distance.

“No. I don’t see it going the distance,” said Dela Hoya who came out of his retirement to grace Wednesday’s press conference for the upcoming live-wire showdown set at the 16,300-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Dela Hoya, who hang up his gloves a few weeks back, and a couple of months after taking a bitter loss to Pacquiao, also at the MGM Grand, said the fight scheduled for a dozen rounds may end in the later part.

“Not early. Maybe late,” said the boxing’s pay-per-view king until he ran smack into Pacquiao on that cold night in December.

Now, Pacquiao is being recognized as the new face of boxing, the pound-for-pound champion and the biggest draw.

Of course, Dela Hoya is rooting for Hatton, who fights under the Golden Boy stable.

But when he talked of the knockout he said he wasn’t really sure who’s going to win and go home with the IBO junior welterweight crown.

“I don’t know who (the winner will be) but it’s not gonna go the distance,” he said, leaning over the presidential table to field questions from Filipino scribes.

“Well I’m gonna go with my guy. Obviously Ricky Hatton is under Golden Boy Promotions. I believe in Ricky and I believe in my trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr. I respect Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach. A great trainer and a great fighter but I’m gonna go with Ricky Hattton,” he said.

Dela Hoya, winner of 10 world titles in six different weight divisions, had been in touch with Hatton in the days leading to the fight, and what he learned fighting Pacquiao has been handed over.

“I’ve given advise to Ricky Hatton already. I’ve been there with Manny Pacquiao I’ve experienced his speed and his punches so obviously the advice that I’m gonna give them I’m sure they may use,” he said.

Is Hatton out to exact revenge for his boss?

“No. It’s not revenge. This is nothing personal. Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao are going to do their job and may the best man win,” he answered. – Abac Cordero

RP leads UK in title fight wins SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM

The outcome of the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight will either stretch the Philippines’ lead over the United Kingdom in terms of world boxing championship wins on a head-to-head basis or deadlock the count.

So far, the record shows six wins for the Philippines and five for the British in 11 world title fights dating back to 1923 when Pancho Villa of Iloilo knocked out Jimmy (The Mighty Atom) Wilde of Wales before 23,000 fans paying a live gate of $94,590 at the New York Polo Grounds.

In history, there have been 74 British world champions and 42 Filipinos. Largely considered the first British world titlist was Cornwall’s Bob Fitzsimmons, the first fighter ever to win championships in three divisions – middleweight (1891), heavyweight (1897) and lightheavyweight (1903).

It was in England where boxing resurfaced in the 17th century after the sport – born in Ethiopia over 8,000 years ago – ”died” in the Dark Ages. The first record of a bareknuckle fight was in 1716 when James Figg claimed to be the English champion.

Boxing rules were written in London in 1743, rewritten in 1838, also in London, and superseded by the Marquess of Queensberry who introduced the use of gloves, the 10-count, three-minute rounds and standard dimensions for a ring in 1867.

Villa was the first Asian world champion who died at the age of 23 of Ludwig’s Angina, an infection of the throat cavity triggered by gum infection and ulcerated teeth a month after losing a 10-round decision to Irishman Jimmy McLarnin in a non-title bout in Oakland in 1925.

Villa knocked out Wilde at 1:46 of the seventh round. Wilde, a Hall of Famer, retired after the loss. Curiously, the man often likened to Villa – Pacquiao – halted and retired a future Hall of Famer, Oscar de la Hoya, 85 years later. Pacquiao is now considering to co-produce a movie based on Villa’s life.

Villa faced another Englishman, Frankie Ash of Devon, in 1924 and retained his crown on a 15-round decision. Ash vowed to avenge Welsh’s loss but failed to dethrone the Filipino before 13,000 fans at the Henderson’s Bowl in Brooklyn. The flamboyant Villa entered the ring wearing a grey fedora hat which he tossed to the crowd before the fight.

* * *

In 1937, Benny Lynch of Clydesdale, Scotland, outpointed Small Montana (born Benjamin Gan of La Carlota, Negros Occidental) to capture the vacant world flyweight crown in London. It was the first British victory over a Filipino in a world title match.

In 1950, Hawaii-born Filipino Salvador (Dado) Marino defeated Terry Allen of London to win the world flyweight title in Honolulu. They faced off in a rematch a year later, also in Honolulu, with Marino retaining the throne via another 15-round verdict.

In 1983, Frank Cedeno of Talisay, Cebu, knocked out Charlie Magri of Stepney Green in the sixth round to wrest the WBC flyweight diadem in London. Then came three straight wins by British fighters over Filipinos in world title bouts.

In 1988, Rolando Bohol was stopped by Croydon’s Duke McKenzie in the 11th round of an IBF flyweight title bout at Wembley Stadium in London. A year later, Dodie Boy Peñalosa was outpointed by Scotland’s Dave McAuley in an IBF flyweight title bout in London. And in 1995, Ric Magramo lost to Paul Weir in a WBO lightflyweight championship fight in Irvine, Scotland.

* * *

In 1997, Eric Jamili brought the Philippines back on track with an eighth round stoppage of Mickey Cantwell to claim the WBO minimumweight crown in London. In 2002, Celso Danggod lost a 12-round decision to Damaen Kelly in a WBF flyweight title fight in London.

In 11 world title bouts between Britons and Filipinos, none was staged in the Philippines. The Pacquiao-Hatton match for the IBO lightwelterweight crown will be the first encounter between a Filipino and a Britisher in a neutral country since Villa defeated Ash in Brooklyn in 1924.

Magri, who lost the WBC flyweight title to Cedeno in 1983, wrote in his book “Champagne Charlie,” that Pacquiao and Hatton are his favorite modern-day fighters.

“Pacquiao for me has got to be the best fighter in the world,” said Magri. “It’s not just that he’s won a lot of big fights; it’s the way he’s done it. He goes out there to take his opponents apart and I like to see that in a fighter, because that’s what I always wanted to do in the ring, get in there and do the business.”

But Magri also paid tribute to Hatton.

“I like fighters who go out there and challenge the world, who want to go out there and prove themselves,” he said. “I think today Hatton is the kind of fighter who thinks like that, who wants a challenge. He’s got the right attitude. The only thing that worries me about Ricky is the way he lets himself go between fights. I wish him all the best, I really do, but I know just how hard this business is and bloating up like that and losing weight is bad for your body and if you’re drying out every time to make weight, the chances are that one day, it’ll catch up to you.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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