Pacquiao, Hatton finalise fight

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton on Wednesday formally agreed to fight for Hatton’s IBO junior welterweight belt on May 2, ending several weeks of negotiating and posturing.

Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), generally considered the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter, will go after Hatton’s 140-pound (63, 5kg) title at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao nearly scuttled the bout several times in recent weeks while demanding a bigger share of the lucrative purse, even forcing Golden Boy Promotions to cancel a media tour planned for this week. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum finally persuaded Pacquiao to sign the necessary contracts after reaching a re-worked deal with Hatton’s representatives this week.

The Philippines’ most famous man is at the top of his talents after brutalising Oscar De La Hoya in their fight on December 6, forcing the Golden Boy to quit after eight rounds. Pacquiao moved all the way up to welterweight for that bout after fighting just once above 130 pounds (59kg) in his career before then.

”I always like new challenges, which is the reason I am anxious to fight Ricky Hatton,” Pacquiao said in a statement released by Top Rank.

”My trainer, Freddie Roach, will put together a new game plan which will be much different than the one we used against Oscar. There are concerns because Hatton is a very strong puncher, so I must deal with that in the ring.”

Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) is one of Britain’s most popular athletes, but the Manchester-born brawler lost his only previous fight against a boxer of Pacquiao’s stature when Floyd Mayweather Jnr stopped him in December 2007. Hatton beat Paulie Malignaggi last autumn in his most recent bout.

Hatton has a promotional deal with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

”We are very excited that this fight has been made, as it is the fight fans wanted and the one I look forward to seeing myself,” De La Hoya said. ”This fight has all the makings of a Fight of the Year candidate and I think Hatton will dethrone Pacquiao and become boxing’s pound-for-pound king.” — Sapa-AP

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