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December 18, 2014

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No. 5: Pacquiao is one quick cat

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao hits a double-end bag as prepares for his fight with Ricky Hatton at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California March 31, 2009. Pacquiao of Philippines will take on Hatton of England in a 12-round fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2.

Manny Pacquiao Training Day

Manny Pacquiao trains at Freddie Roach's gym in Hollywood in preparation for May 2's Hatton fight in Las Vegas.

Manny Pacquiao's training camp

Manny Pacquiao, right, spars with Gary Young as he prepares for his fight with Ricky Hatton at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California March 31, 2009. Pacquiao of Philippines will take on Hatton of England in a 12-round fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2. Launch slideshow »

A Punchy Premiere

Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton make their debut in Hollywood Monday night to promote their May 2 fight in Las Vegas.

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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.

Speed kills.

It's one of the universally accepted philosophies that holds true in every sport and arguably no boxer puts his speed to better use than Manny Pacquiao.

The "Pac-Man" has always preferred a blistering combination over a full-cocked haymaker.

"Speed is always a big key for Manny Pacquiao," said Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach. "It's not only his hand speed, it's his foot speed. He gets himself in and out of trouble really quick. He scores points and gets out of there. He's got quick hands, but his feet are what's special."

According to Roach, there's another phrase about speed that comes into play regarding Saturday's bout between Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton — You can't teach it.

"They say they're improving Hatton's speed, but you can't improve speed, it's a god-given gift," Roach said. "Either you have it or you don't."

The two international stars set to meet each other this week are different in many ways, but perhaps none are more significant than their styles in the ring. While Hatton has built a reputation as an overpowering bully, Pacquiao is known as a more technically sound, speedster.

Hatton is coming off what many thought would be a good preparation for Pacquiao's style, a Nov. 22 matchup with the combo-throwing Paulie Malignaggi. The fight turned into a one-sided affair however, as Malignaggi (26-2, 5 KO) was beaten to the punch all night in an 11th round TKO in November.

According to Malignaggi, the last man to see Hatton in the ring, the outcome was due more to a flawed game plan than Hatton's ability to defeat his hand speed.

Malignaggi's training camp had altered his stance and taught him to avoid throwing punches on the move, which Malignaggi said could have flustered Hatton.

"Not taking anything away from Ricky, he's a great guy, but the outcome of that fight was based more on our own errors than his fighting ability," said Malignaggi, who fired trainer Buddy McGirt following the Hatton fight.

"His advantage will always be his size and aggressiveness. He thinks he's the new speedster because he beat me, but in actuality that was an illusion based on the problems I was having with my trainer."

Hatton's lone loss of his career, a 10th-round TKO at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007, illustrated what may be his biggest weakness. Charging behind his aggressive style, Hatton was unable to defend himself against quick return blows from the speedy Mayweather.

"He's so aggressive by nature and if you're not ready for his pressure, he'll break you," Malignaggi said. "But he comes in face first. I remember I always looked at Ricky's style and would think I was just going to kill him. Unfortunately, I didn't capitalize on my opportunity."

Prior to the Malignaggi fight, Hatton went to the father of the only man that's beaten him, Floyd Mayweather Sr., to improve his technique. Under Mayweather Sr.'s guidance, Hatton has worked on becoming more of a boxer than a bully. Whether or not he'll stay committed to that strategy when tested, remains to be seen.

"Hatton's got so much heart and he's going to try so hard, but I think that might be his downfall," Roach said. "Because he's going to walk into a lot of shots. I believe that after fighting 50 pro fights the same way for so long, once he gets hit he's going to revert back to what he is, and that's a brawler. We just have to do our job and outbox him."

If that turns out to be the case, some believe it may not be such a bad thing. Pacquiao's speed is such an advantage, Hatton's best chance may be to bully him after all.

"He's definitely modified his style under Mayweather, and I'm not sure if that's for better or worse," Malignaggi said. "For this particular fight, he's been trying to become more technical, but I think Manny's on another level.

“Ricky's advantage is his size, he has to outmuscle him. If he can do that, he may come out and break Manny down."

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