Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Principals: Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) vs. Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs)
Stakes: Hatton’s IBO and The Ring magazine junior welterweight championships; Pacquiao’s unofficial claim to boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound title
Time/site: Today at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. 2:30 p.m., doors open; 2:45 p.m., first bout; 6 p.m., pay-per-view telecast begins; 8 p.m. (approximately), main event
Tickets: Sold out
Closed-circuit viewing: $50; Mandalay Bay, Mirage, TI, Monte Carlo, Circus Circus, Luxor, New York-New York
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View, $49.95
Promoters: Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions in association with MP Promotions and Hatton Promotions
Betting line: Pacquiao minus 270; over/under 9 1/2 rounds
Featured undercard bout: Humberto Soto (47-7-2, 30 KOs) vs. Benoit Gaudet (20-1, 7 KOs), 12 rounds, WBC super featherweight championship
Undercard: Daniel Jacobs (15-0, 14 KOs) vs. Michael Walker (19-1-2, 12 KOs), 8 rounds, middleweights; Matt Korobov (4-0, 4 KOs) vs. Anthony Bartenelli (15-12-2, 13 KOs), 4 rounds, middleweights; Erislandy Lara (4-0, 3 KOs) vs. Chris Gray (11-7, 1 KO), 4 rounds, junior middleweights; Matthew Hatton (35-4-1, 13 KOs) vs. Ernesto Zepeda (39-11-4, 34 KOs), 8 rounds, welterweights; Mike Alvarado (25-0, 18 KOs) vs. Juaquin Gallardo (18-7-1, 5 KOs), 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Abner Mares (17-0, 10 KOs) vs. Jonathan Perez (14-5, 11 KOs), 8 rounds, bantamweights; Bernabe Concepcion (28-1-1, 17 KOs) vs. Yogli Herrera (21-8, 15 KOs), 8 rounds, lightweights; Joe Murray (1-0) vs. Missael Nunez (4-7-2), 4 rounds, featherweights; Omar Chavez (14-0-1, 10 KOs) vs. Tyler Ziolowski (11-6, 6 KOs), 4 rounds, junior welterweights
Show host Andy Samuelson discusses Saturday's megafight between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao with Sun sports writers Jeff Haney and Brett Okamoto.
1. East vs. West
The fight is being promoted as “The Battle of East and West,” in honor of Manny Pacquiao’s Filipino heritage and Ricky Hatton’s British background, and in a nod to Rudyard Kipling’s 1889 poem “The Ballad of East and West.” Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, quoted the final lines of the ballad in announcing the long-anticipated match between Pacquiao and Hatton: “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth/When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth.” Top Rank boss Bob Arum, also a fan of Kipling’s work, recalled he used a similar title when promoting the 1979 heavyweight championship fight between John Tate and Gerrie Coetzee in South Africa.
2. Arena sold out
Tickets for Pacquiao-Hatton at the Grand Garden Arena, priced at $150 to $1,000, have sold out thanks not only to casino officials who supply them to their high-rolling customers, but also to the big international fan base of each fighter. It’s not uncommon for Hatton loyalists from his native Manchester, England, to splurge on a Las Vegas trip to party on the Strip and support their fighter — even if they can’t get a ticket to the fight. Pacquiao himself ordered hundreds of tickets for family members, friends and even politicians from his native Philippines, reminding Arum of a popular champion from the past. “Roberto Duran was a human box office, too, like Manny,” Arum said.
Hatton, who defeated Kostya Tszyu in his most prominent victory to date, also owns wins against Paulie Malignaggi, Jose Luis Castillo and Luis Collazo, although he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. the last time he challenged boxing’s pound-for-pound champ. Because of his skill and popularity, Hatton has drawn comparisons to great British fighters of the past, going back to Ted “Kid” Lewis, who won nine titles in multiple weight divisions after turning pro in the early 20th century. “To be mentioned in the same breath as some of Great Britain’s boxing heroes, that would be spectacular, but I don’t think anybody has drawn (this kind of) atmosphere and fan base over to the United States,” Hatton said. “This is the second time I’ve challenged for the pound-for-pound No. 1, four world titles. We haven’t had too many British fighters that could say they were the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter at one time ... As long as I get the respect I feel I deserve, I think I’ll be happy.”
4. Oh, Henry
Pacquiao won three major fights in three weight divisions last year, two of them for world titles, an achievement his trainer, Freddie Roach, likened to hall of famer Henry Armstrong’s historic feat of capturing world titles at featherweight, welterweight and lightweight (in that order) in 1937 and 1938. Pacquiao, seeking a belt in a sixth weight class, fights at 140 pounds for the first time against Hatton. “It is very important for me to win in six different divisions for the people of my country,” Pacquiao said. “I have sacrificed for my family and my country and I have dedicated my life to them and to boxing. Being a six-time champion, if that happens, people will want to put my name in boxing history and that will be my legacy.”
5. Deep undercard
Mexico’s Humberto Soto is a heavy betting favorite, upward of 20-1 at joints that even deign to post a line, to successfully defend his world super featherweight title for the second time since winning it in December. Canada’s Benoit Gaudet steps up to challenge in his first world championship fight. Two of the sport’s most acclaimed prospects fight in separate four-rounders: middleweight Matt Korobov, a native Russian now based in Florida, tries to make it five knockouts in five starts since turning pro in November at Mandalay Bay; and Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara also tries to stay unbeaten since turning pro in July. Each man could have world championship fights in his future.