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Pacquiao, Hatton ready for battle

THERE'S only one Ricky Hatton, as his admirers constantly sing to anyone who will listen.

Good thing, because if there were any more Ricky Hattons his devoted followers in England might never have time to do anything but sing.

The problem for Hatton is there's also only one pound-for-pound champion in boxing.

His name is Manny Pacquiao, and all he did his last time out was give Oscar De La Hoya such a beating that De La Hoya decided it was time to retire.

That fight not only introduced Pacquiao to a lot of casual boxing fans, but prompted odds-makers to make him a 2-1 favorite when he and Hatton meet tomorrow (Shanghai time) in a 140-pound (63 1/2-kilogram) fight in Las Vegas that is the first big bout of the post-De La Hoya era.

Despite the lopsided odds, both Hatton and his fans fervently believe he will be the one with his gloves raised when the fight finally ends.

"I've been here before," Hatton said. "People say (I'm) over-hyped, overprotected, a fat, beer-drinking Englishman. Well, I'm going to shock the world again."

A Hatton win might not be quite enough to shock the world, but it would deal a blow to the Philippines, where Pacquiao is such a national hero that there is talk about him running for president when he gets out of boxing. But while the Pacman was always huge at home, it wasn't until he stopped De La Hoya that many in American boxing began giving him his due as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game.

It's a mythical title, but Pacquiao has won enough real titles to justify his coronation. Though the Hatton fight is for a lightly regarded IBO crown, winning at junior welterweight will mean Pacquiao has won titles in six weight divisions, beginning at 112 pounds (51 kg).

"If that happens, people will want to put my name in boxing history and that will be my legacy," Pacquiao said.


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