TSS readers regularly come up with tags for fights that obliterate the names given by promoters. I think our ace commenters might be able to do a bit better than “The Battle of East and West,” the tag for the May 2nd showdown between the division-hopping Filipino fury—let me amend that, contained fury—Manny Pacquiao, and Brit banger Ricky Hatton.

I think I can perhaps offer a better tag: how about the The Battle For the Pound For Pound Crown? Golden Boy, feel free to nick it if you dig it…

I like it, because it refers to royalty, so that gives a nod to the Brits. And the image of the crown certainly fits Pacquiao, who is now acknowledged as the king of the ring on the pugilism scene, is revered as an icon in his native land and went so far as to name his newborn babe “Queen Elizabeth” when she exited wife Jinkie in January.

Naming nonsense aside, goodness, who among us would have called Hatton getting a crack at the top pound for pounder after his last stab at yanking that crown off the last holder, Floyd Mayweather, ended with the popular Mancunian stumbling on queer street (TKO10 loss in Dec. 2007) after Money cashed out on the fighter his massive load of admirers playfully refer to as Rocky Fatton?

But this is 2009, Manny wears the P4P trinket atop his noggin, Floyd is still on hiatus, and Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) has been reborn, as a boxer first, puncher second, under new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Hatton, age 30, meshed well with Senior as he got ready to fight speedy Paulie Malignaggi in November, and even Hatton doubters were impressed with his hand speed, footwork, head movement and commitment to the jab in his stoppage victory. Hatton was amped up getting ready for Paulie, like a kid who’d been home schooled to age 14, and then was wowed by a varied curriculum and social scene at his local high school.

No offense to trainer Billy Graham, Hatton told all, but I needed some fresh insight, and needed to get away from that wade in and fire mentality if I wanted to fight on.

Fight on he is, and he has secured himself a massive payday, and a shot at doing something no one has managed to do since 2005: beat Manny Pacquiao. Quell yourself, Borges and JMM fans—Boxrec says Manny (48-3-2, 36 KOs) hasn’t lost since since 2005 and we’re sticking to that for the sake of staying on point! But does he really, deep down, think that he truly has refashioned himself enough to handle  a man who is faster than him, a man whose technical skills have grown in leaps and bounds in the last five years to the point he is the best boxer on the planet, a man who comes off a scintillating upset win against a man, Oscar De La Hoya, who was supposed to be too big and bad for the plucky Filipino?

Damn right he does. Hatton told the press on a Wednesday conference call that he is more confident in his chances of winning against Manny than he was against Mayweather. That makes sense to me, since he will be fighting at 140 pounds, his favored weight division, and come fight night, he will likely be the beefier man, as opposed to ODLH, who was totally sapped of any liquid come fight night Dec. 6, 2008.

“To say I’m confident would be an understatement,” he told the press.

One reason Hatton likes his chances is that he isn’t crazily impressed by what the 30-year-old Pacquiao did to Oscar. “Oscar that night weighed 147 pounds,” Hatton said. “Come fight night I’ll weigh 154 pounds. I will be the biggest man Manny’s faced. No disrespect to Manny, but I like to think I could’ve done the same to Oscar (that night).”
Hatton said he thought he could beat Floyd, but “I think I made it easy for him. I think I played right into his hands, not jabbing, just rushing in. I’m more confident in this fight. I’m at my natural weight and in previous fights I think I forgot my technical ability.” Hatton said he doubted himself after the Lazcano fight (May 2008), started believing the naysayers’ whispers. Maybe I am washed up, been in too many wars, he thought to himself. But a change in trainers got him out of that mode, and now he said he’ll no longer be so easy to handle, because his tactics will be more varied.
Hatton proudly defended his participation in this P4P faceoff. “I like to think I deserve this…maybe Marquez,” he said when asked if truly deserves this tussle. “But you tell me someone else (who more so deserves a crack at Manny), I’d like to know. If not Ricky Hatton, then who?”  It was the only time he approached a salty tone, and Hatton wasn’t truly steamed at the implication…

Floyd Senior and Hatton started training last Friday and Hatton says the trainer is impressed that his handspeed is basically where it was when he was training for Paulie. Hatton will need to have fast hands against Pacquiao, whose footwork and elusiveness could really give Hatton fits on May 2. Hatton said Pacquiao will get a dose of his strength and bullying bashing, but that the Filipino might be surprised with the Brit’s nuanced game. “Ricky Hatton always goes for the knockout, but obviously I can’t go in there crash, bang, whallop,” Hatton said. More time with Senior, Hatton said, will pay more dividends than we saw against Malignaggi. “We’re getting together like peas and carrots,” Hatton joked.

Senior weighed in, with a promise that Hatton will get the job done, conclusively, on May 2. “Everything is mapped out,” he said. “We’re gonna whup his a**, simple as that. Gonna bust his a** up!”

Could Hatton score a kayo?

“There’s a very, very good chance of Ricky knocking Manny out,” Senior said. “I think a KO is more likely than anything. This ain’t no dehydrated Oscar!”
The trainer said he loves working with the coachable Hatton. He said he’d like to get along with Junior in the same way, but that hasn’t been the way they’ve meshed. “If we can get along I’d like that,” the trainer said. “What can I say about my own son, but, ‘Oh well.’ If he don’t want to be a son, oh well. I got to take care of myself, I got eight grandkids, I’m not worrying about a grown man.”
Senior said that if Ricky listens to him, and sticks to the gameplan, he’ll win. “I got the best fighter and I’m the best trainer, that will solve everything!” The trainer said the only reason Pacquiao manhandled Oscar was because Oscar was over-worked, and dehydrated. “He didn’t beat the real De La Hoya,” Mayweather insisted. “I know Oscar’s a much better fighter than that. If I had run that camp, it would’ve been much different, PacMan woulda been whupped!”

The trainer played down this scrap as a battle among the top trainers in the game, pound for pound. “It’s night and day, don’t ever compare us. Freddie Roach is a joke. He’s in the Hall of Fame, he should be in the Hall of Shame.”

Hatton gave some insight on his strategy and holes in PacMan’s game. The Brit said Manny commits so heavily to tosses, he sometimes gets off balance. “If he misses, big shots will be waiting for him,” Hatton promised.

What say you, TSS U? Could Hatton yank the P4P crown off Manny’s head? Is if the Filipino Fury destined to reign for a spell longer? Fire away!

Yes, Senior said, Floyd will fight again. (As if any of us have ever doubted that!)

—Hatton said he’d be willing to take on Shane Mosley after he wins, if Mosley can get to 140.