LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Revelling in his role as underdog, Britain’s Ricky Hatton has pledged to upset Filipino Manny Pacquiao in their hotly anticipated IBO light-welterweight title fight on Saturday.
Although Hatton is undefeated at his natural weight of 140 pounds, Las Vegas bookmakers and most boxing pundits have installed Pacquiao as favourite for the 12-round contest.
“If it does go against me, I will be shocked,” Hatton said during a joint news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel on Wednesday. “And I say that with no disrespect for my opponent.
“But just standing next to him — and I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me because he can punch — the first thing that goes through my mind is: ‘How is this man going to keep me off him for 12 rounds?’ That’s how confident I feel.”
Hatton, 45-1 (32 KOs), is putting his title on the line against a former four-division world champion widely regarded as the best fighter in contemporary boxing.
Pacquiao outclassed Oscar De La Hoya after eight rounds in December in his most recent bout — a welterweight contest.
“I saw a poll of something like 40 writers across Britain and America, and 35 of them picked him. That’s inspiration for me right there,” Hatton said.
“I’ve always been the underdog throughout my career. I don’t think anyone ever expected me to get this far.
“I was just seen as an exciting ticket seller who fought in Manchester, who fought in England, put too much weight on, doesn’t live the life, and all of this.”
Pacquiao, however, has repeatedly said he will not underestimate Hatton when he steps into the ring for the first time in the light-welterweight division.
“I know Ricky Hatton is prepared,” said the Filipino southpaw, 48-3-2 (36 KOs). “I respect him ... He’s a different kind of fighter than I have been fighting before. He’s a good fighter and a strong fighter.
“He has a lot of energy and throws a lot of punches.”
Pacquiao, nicknamed ‘Pac-man’, said he and his team had been repeatedly watching video tapes of previous Hatton fights and were ready for Saturday’s showdown.
“Everyone knows the style of Ricky Hatton,” the 30-year-old added. “He always comes forward, throwing a lot of punches. It’s going to be a war.”
Hatton was quick to echo his opponent’s forecast.
“Oh yeah, it’s going to be a war,” he said. “We’re going to make it one.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Ian Ransom