Anticipation is growing in the boxing world and among Filipinos around the globe as the Battle of East & West nears between the Champion of the People, Manny Pacquiao and England’s superstar boxer, Ricky, the Hit Man Hatton. Pacquiao is heavily favoured to win the upcoming fight on May 2 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas but odds makers are not ruling out some surprises from Hatton, whose brawling style could cause some difficulties for the PacMan.
Physically, the two are more closely matched than Pacquiao’s most recent conquest, the larger Oscar De La Hoya. Hatton and Pacquiao both are 30 years old. Hatton is an inch taller at 5 feet, 7 and half inches but Pacquiao’s 67-inch reach favours him by two inches while his superior power and speed are expected to be the decisive factor.Pacquiao will be competing for the first time in the junior welterweight fight – a division in which Hatton is undefeated. Should Pacquiao win the fight, he will be the first Asian boxer to ever win five titles in five different divisions. To date, he has won the WBC crown in lightweight, the WBC title in super featherweight, the IBF crown in the super bantamweight and the WBC belt in flyweight.
The upcoming match will feature a couple of other firsts for Manny Pacquiao. It will be the first time his mother, Dionisia, will be in the United States to watch her son fight – but she won’t be in the audience. She plans to watch the bout on TV in her room at the MGM Grand.
“Hindi sa mismong harap ng ring kasi maaawa ako sa anak ko pag nasuntok siya ng kalaban niya, baka umakyat ako sa ring, [Not at ringside because I will feel pity for my son when his opponent hits him, I might climb into the ring] she told the media.
Previously, Aling Dionisia stayed in their General Santos City mansion, praying for her son’s success and safety.
In another first, Pacquiao has broken his tradition of choosing a woman to sing the Philippine national anthem before the fight. In the past, singers such as Kyla, Karylle, Geneva Cruz and Sarah Geronimo sang the anthem, apparently giving him good luck. This time, Pacquiao has chosen the “Concert King,” Martin Nievera to sing Lupang Hinirang.
“I’m very happy about it. I’ve always wanted to be the singer of the national anthem,” Nievera said. “Manny Pacquiao is going to bring honour to the country and I’m gonna help make our country proud by singing the national anthem with all my heart and utmost pride,” he added.
World-renowned singer Lea Salonga and international young diva Charice, had also expressed their desire to sing the national anthem.
The Pacquiao-Hatton fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas can be seen live in Winnipeg at the McPhillips Street Station Casino on May 2.