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August 22, 2014

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No. 6: An international affair

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Associated Press

Filipinos wave a Philippine flag as they celebrate the victory of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao over Oscar De La Hoya while they watch it beamed live via satellite at the Tondo Sports Complex in Manila, Philippines on Sunday Dec. 7, 2008. From five-star hotel lounges and army camps to Manila’s burgeoning slums, Filipinos gathered in huge numbers to cheer the country’s boxing icon, as officials say the victory provided the country a momentary respite from financial worries.

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Boxer Ricky Hatton, of Britain, arrives in a London-style taxi at the MGM Grand for his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December of 2007.

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Editor's Note: Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton, boxing's top two international superstars, square off in "The Battle of East and West" on May 2 at the MGM Grand. In the days leading up to this blockbuster bout, the Las Vegas Sun is presenting a Top 10 countdown of key points of interest for Pacquiao vs. Hatton.

There will be flags a waving and Christmas-themed singing, and that’s just the crazy scene that will play out to those lucky enough to be inside the MGM Grand next Saturday night.

Two worlds away the celebration will be even more intense as Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton meet in a megabout to decide boxing pride, and fan superiority between each superstar’s large legion of supporters.

“You've got two of the best fighters in the world in Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, as well as two of the most exciting fighters, facing each other in their primes,” said the recently retired Oscar De La Hoya.

What more could you want, besides tickets to the event?

Since that’s an unlikely scenario for most fans interested in this international affair, especially considering “The Battle of East and West” officially sold out last week, the millions of pugilist purists will have to watch the event via HBO pay-per-view.

‘Pac-Man’ supporters will likely huddle around television sets and party in masses in the Philippines (a country of around 90 million, a third of which live below the poverty line) like they did for Pacquiao’s dominant win over De La Hoya.

The streets of General Santos City were lined with revelers after the early stoppage of the “Golden Boy,” and even more is on the line this time against Hatton.

“The Filipino's love their boxing, it's their major sport like the Mexicans also,” Top Rank chief Bob Arum told Eastside Boxing.

“Remember, it's not only the Filipinos in The Philippines but there's about ten to twelve million Filipinos who live around the world, including about three million in the United States. That's a great, great fan base.”

To Filipinos Pacquiao has achieved more than just celebrity status, some view him as a saint for his charitable contributions and reforms he lobbied for in a brief run as a politician.

For them Pacquiao dedicates himself each time he enters the ring.

“I have sacrificed for my family and my country and I have dedicated my lift to them and to boxing,” Pacquiao said.

"All I'm trying to do is give happiness and enjoyment to the people.”

Meanwhile in Manchester, England the home to “The Hitman,” pride overflows like pilsner at a local pub.

While football, the world’s version, is U.K.’s king, Hatton has captured his country’s sporting imagination.

Some 30,000 countrymen came to support him in 2007 when he lost his only career bout to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I might not have won the title pound-for-pound best fighter in the world when I fought Floyd (Mayweather) Jr., but one title I have without doubt is the best fight fans in the world,” Hatton penned in a diary he wrote for Sky Sports.

Hatton said he doesn’t expect as many Brits to come to Las Vegas this time around because of the downed economy, but said 10,000 to 15,000 will again make the trip overseas.

No doubt ones that are not filling up the Crown and Anchor on Tropicana will be making their presence known with their favorite song, “Hatton Wonderland,” sung to the tune of the Christmas carol “Winter Wonderland:

There's only one Ricky Hatton,

One Ricky Hatton,

Walking along,

Singing this song,

Walking in a Hatton wonderland.

Hatton’s brother, Matthew Hatton, said while the tune might be a little too repetitive for American fans after the 50th verse, “it never gets old” to the Hatton family.

“It’s the best, especially when the fans are starting to fill into the arena and the band strikes it up for the first time,” said Matt, whose is fighting on his brother’s undercard.

“There hasn’t been a bout with two fans bases like this in a long, long time. I’m excited to see the atmosphere on both sides.”

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