Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taller Hatton predicts early win against Pacquiao

WASHINGTON - Ricky Hatton is banking on his strength and slight height advantage to help him knock out Filipino Manny Pacquiao early in their mouth-watering light-welterweight title clash in Las Vegas on May 2.

The 5 foot 7 inch Hatton, who has never lost at his natural weight of 140 pounds, is one inch taller than former four-weight world champion Pacquiao.

"I don't see it being a distance fight," Hatton said during a teleconference call on Tuesday. "Manny goes for the knockout, I go for the knockout. It'll be an absolute war.

"Manny isn't the most elusive guy ... and when he gets hit, he will be hit by the strongest man he has ever been in with. I've never been more confident.

"Very rarely do I have an opponent against whom I have a height advantage, albeit a miniscule one, and certainly a strength advantage," added the 30-year-old from Manchester.

"Manny hasn't fought anybody as fiery, as ferocious and certainly as big and strong as Ricky Hatton. Ricky Hatton is a handful."

Hatton , who is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.


Pacquiao's most recent bout, a stoppage win over Oscar De La Hoya in December, was at welterweight but he has never fought in the 140-pound division where Hatton is the undisputed king.

"He's had one fight about 135 pounds and that was against Oscar," Hatton said. "He's a southpaw, he's got his hand speed and his footwork so I'm aware of the dangers.

"But he should certainly be worried about my power. He has won world titles in different weight divisions but down there."

Hatton will be fighting for the fifth time in Las Vegas, his most recent appearance there resulting in an 11th-round TKO of American Paulie Malignaggi in November to retain his IBO belt.

However, the Nevada desert venue was also the scene of his only defeat -- by Floyd Mayweather Jr in December 2007 -- a bitter loss that prompted him to re-evaluate his career.

"The Mayweather fight taught me I needed to pull my socks up and stop thinking I could walk right through opponents," said 'Hitman' Hatton.

After an unimpressive comeback bout against Juan Lazcano in Manchester, Hatton fired his long-time trainer Billy Graham and turned to the father of his sole conqueror, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Under Mayweather's guidance, Hatton has rediscovered some of the boxing skills he felt he had lost in recent fights and he believed his stoppage of Malignaggi proved how much he had improved during their short time together.

"That was with just seven weeks of training camp," Hatton said of his November win when he frequently out-jabbed an opponent who had been widely viewed as holding an advantage in hand speed and boxing ability.

"If we did that in seven weeks, with another training camp we're going to be that much better. Everyone thinks I'm just a fat little brawler but there's more to me than that."

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