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Saturday, May 2, 2009

There’s Only One Hatton/Pacquiao

The last few fights I have attended in Vegas, Margarito vs. Cotto, De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao, brought en electricity all their own to the town. Everywhere you looked people were talking about what the outcome would be, arguing, drinking, getting ready for a good time. But when you throw in two fighters as revered by their respective countries as Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, electricity doesn’t come close to describing it. Try radioactive. Traffic stops, (sat in my car, blocks away from the MGM Grand for an eternity), throngs push and pull through the casino floor trying to get to the weigh in much less the fight. It’s a pure mayhem usually reserved for the Beatles or Elvis. But if you ask a Pinoy boxing fan, Manny Pacquiao is Jesus, Elvis, and Mike Tyson all rolled into one. And Ricky Hatton? Well, let’s just say he not excites his fans but if the UK took a poll, he would get “Most Likely To Kick it and Have a Pint with you.” He’s a peoples champ as well as being the 140 pound champ.

Making my way to weigh in through the crowds and security, I was counting one for one Hatton and Pacquiao fans. And as I entered the arena, I came across about 4,000 people, seemingly all singing the same : THERE’S ONLY ONE RICKY HATTON . . . ONE RICKY HATTON . . .” When Floyd Mayweather, Jr knocked out Hatton in December ’07, I thought that was the last I had heard from that song. How wrong I was. Drums, chanting, singing, drunken smiles and boos for the opposition filled the room as I settled into my seat to watch Pacquiao and Hatton weigh in.

First to the scales was promising young southpaw junior middleweight, Erislandy Lara (4-0 3 KOS) who came in at 155 to his opponent Chris Gray’s 156. Lara is an exciting and well schooled a prospect as you will find. All action but technically sound and for now, his power looks formidable. Don’t blink.

Russian amateur standout Matt Karabov (4-0 4 KOs), another well schooled, fights like a pro prospect came in looking trim and ready at 161 ½. His opponent, Anthony Bartenelli (15-12-2 with 13 KOs and weighing161 ) came in looking like Tarzan, long hair flowing. I don’t think I have ever seen a fighter with hair that long. Good luck with that.

Next up was prospect soon to be contender Daniel Jacobs (15-0 with 14 KOs and weighing 163) fresh off a co-feature bout on Friday Night Fights last week. His management said they could get him on this card if he won that fight quickly and the kid came through in 2. 2 fights, 8 days, and the guy still looks fresh. His opponent, Michael Walker (19-1-2 with 12 KOs and weighing 162 ) was in training for James Kirkland. If he trained as hard he needed to for that fight, then Jacobs, Kirkland’s replacement, and the fans are in for a treat.

The co-feature opponents, Humberto Soto (47-7-2 with 30 KOs) and Benoit Gaudet (20-1 with 7 KOs) came in looking ready for battle at 130 and 129 respectively. Soto is rarely if ever in a bad fight. His opponent isn’t exactly the most heavy-handed guy in the world but Soto has a way of making all action bouts out of gimmes.

Promoter and newly retired legend, Oscar De La Hoya came to the podium and talked about how excited he was to be promoting a fighter as dangerous and promotable as Ricky Hatton. Indicating he liked Hatton’s chances, De La Hoya said “If I fought Ricky Hatton in December, I would have been knocked out.” As for retirement, De La Hoya smiled and said “I’m glad I’m retired. Now I can go and enjoy a pint or ten.” To which the crowd exploded. Lot of retirees in attendance, I guess.

Finally it was time for the main event weigh in. Manny Pacquiao came in to a roaring crowd of supporters wearing his trademark Philippines flag sweats and shades. Manny was all smiles as he hopped up on the scales and planted a 138 on the crowd who roared their approval. This is one of the very few times I have seen Manny weigh in and not look a little starched. He looks good at the weight.

Ricky Hatton entered the arena and the crowd went nuts. Looking very serious and more than a little gaunt, Hatton walked up and hit 140 on the nose. Both men look in tremendous shape but Hatton appears to have to sacrifice to make the weight. During the standoff, both men look to be about the same size with Manny Pacquiao’s head being slightly bigger. After a long stare down, they shake hands at Hatton’s behest. The weight is on. So is the fight.

Source: maxboxing.com