Pacquiao-Hatton Match-up Gaining Momentum
/ July 2, 2008 - 7:30pm
SPECULATION about a showdown between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, arguably the world's two most popular fighters, is growing even though there have still been no formal talks between their camps.
Hatton's father and manager, Ray Hatton, said he was contacted on Wednesday by journalists in the Philipinnes, Pacquiao's home country, where talk of the bout is apparently generating huge interest.
The prospect of the fight was first discussed with Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum six months ago after Hatton's welterweight title defeat by Floyd Mayweather Jr, Ray Hatton said.
With Mayweather's recent retirement elevating Pacquiao to the pound-for-pound number one spot, the bout would give Hatton another crack at the most prestigious mantle in boxing.
Pacquiao kept the possibility of facing Hatton alive last Saturday night when he outclassed and stopped David Diaz in nine rounds to win the WBC lightweight title, his fourth championship in different weight divisions. Pacquiao reportedly weighed 147 pounds by the time he got into the ring, so would have no problem stepping up to junior welter to challenge Hatton.
Hatton outpointed the Mexican-American Juan Lazcano in front of a 58,000 home crowd in Manchester on May 24, but a Pacquiao fight could draw an even bigger gate and a massive worldwide viewing audience.
The fight, though, could not happen until next spring at the earliest. Hatton is contracted to face Paulie Malignaggi for his old IBF 140-pound title in November, while Pacquiao is reportedly close to reaching agreement to defend against the Venezuelan knockout artist Edwin Valero.
Assuming both win, it would theoretically clear the way for a pay-per-view blockbuster between champions who have captured titles across six weight divisions from flyweight to welterweight.
Ray Hatton told me: "I got a phone call from the Philipinnes from a couple of magazines and a TV channel there. They said Manny's gone out saying it would be a great fight with Ricky Hatton. He would be looking at May or June next year. [They asked] what does Ricky think about it? I just said obviously it's a very exciting proposition. They also said how great it would be for Ricky because he gets a shot again to become the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world."
Ray Hatton said he was impressed with Pacquiao's victory over Diaz, admitting: "I think he performed brilliantly. He didn't tire the same because obviously now he's not boiling down to the weight. The Philipinnes journalists, who know him personally, said that he is better the heavier he is."
Pacquiao is arguably the only fighter in the world who can match Hatton's popularity, which is why a fight between the two 29-year-olds would be such a huge attraction.
But Ray Hatton added: "The beautiful thing is everybody approaches us. It was talked about prior to the last one, but now it just seems to have gathered massive momentum. Everybody knows what sort of fight it will be. If it comes over here [to the UK], you're going to get an attendance record if you staged it somewhere like Wembley.
"A lot of people know who Manny Pacquiao is now because once you become the pound-for-pound number one whenever they do any ratings, everybody looks at that, don't they? According to what they were saying in the Philipinnes, they just feel the viewing audience would be enormous.
"We've got to get through Paulie Malignaggi [first], which isn't an easy task because I think Paulie did brilliantly considering he broke his hand in the fourth round [in his last fight against Lovemore Ndou].
"Either way, if we get through Paulie, we'll be fighting May time anyway because that's basically the schedule.
"Ricky will be getting back into training towards the end of August. He's been a couple of times in the gym, running on the running machine. It's only a month since he last fought. He'll probably have another four, five weeks off."
Asked if there were any reservations about a fight with Pacquiao, Ray Hatton said: "The thing is with Richard, he's never shunned anyone. The only person that he was reluctant to fight was Junior Witter and it was a principle thing because he thought Junior should have earned a shot at him, not by being the man who shouted Ricky Hatton out for four years.
"I think your big performers have to have fights that give them the fear factor."
Pacquiao, it seems, fits the bill.