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July 23, 2014

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No. 4: Hatton still a power puncher at heart

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Steve Marcus

Light welterweight boxer Ricky Hatton, right, of England works on his timing with trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. during a media workout in Las Vegas, Nevada Thursday, April 16, 2009. Hatton will face Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2.

Hatton Training Day

Before his fight May 2nd against Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton lets us inside his training session.

Ricky Hatton's training camp

Light welterweight boxer Ricky Hatton, right, of England works on his timing with trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. during a media workout in Las Vegas, Nevada Thursday, April 16, 2009. Hatton will face Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas 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.

To most boxing observers, body blows can be easily overlooked during the roar of a bout.

They're boring. They don't knock a man unconscious, nor draw blood. But those who understand the sport know, the right body shot can stun a fighter, complicate the simple act of breathing and end a fight.

Ricky Hatton threw what some consider the best body shot ever in a 2007 welterweight title fight against Jose Castillo. After three fairly even rounds, Hatton landed a left hook to Castillo's liver that dropped him to his knees. The blow sickened Castillo enough that he didn't move once during referee Joe Cortez's full 10-count.

"The Castillo fight was a good one, just a wicked performance," said Hatton's father, Ray. "Journalists said it was one of the best left hooks ever — a perfect one."

Those who believe in "The Hitman" this Saturday, believe in him for that reason — power.

This weekend’s megabout will be just the second time Pacquiao has fought at 140 pounds or heavier. Many consider it to be the first time, disregarding his TKO victory over Oscar De La Hoya at 147-pounds in December on account of a poor performance from his opponent and possible dehydration.

"What people have to realize, is that Manny was supposed to fight a great champion and didn't get one that night," said Hatton's agent, Paul Speak. "The first punch Manny takes is going to be a shock to his system because he hasn't ever fought anybody as heavy as Ricky. He fought Oscar, but Oscar didn't throw any punches at him."

There's another side to the De La Hoya outcome, however, that Pacquiao supporters are happy to put on the table. It's not that De La Hoya had an off night, Pacquiao was just that on.

"Everyone says that Oscar had a bad night, I like to look at it differently," said Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach, who also trained De La Hoya earlier in his career.

"Manny is really getting used to fighting at this weight, he weighed 142 in the Oscar fight. He can eat what he wants, he's happy, a lot of people don't realize that he's settled into this weight. He's knocked out four of his sparring partners. They keep telling me Hatton is going to be the stronger fighter in this fight and I just disagree."

The addition of trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. to Hatton's camp has added an interesting side note to the differing styles the two boxers will bring to the ring this weekend. Hatton has always been known as an aggressive fighter that charges his opponents, getting his hits in and clinching before they can respond.

With Mayweather in charge, many believe Hatton's technique has changed to a more technical approach. An outlook that may help or hurt him against a fighter like Pacquiao, who's reputation is to outbox his opponents.

"I believe the old Ricky Hatton would have had a better chance against Manny Pacquiao," said Paulie Malignaggi, who suffered a 11th round TKO loss to Hatton last November.

"He's still aggressive but they've worked on getting him to throw faster when his advantage is his physical side. I don’t know if they've been able to improve him enough to beat Manny that way. He's not completely different, but he's thinking different, and I think in this particular fight it could hinder him."

Although it is true that Mayweather was brought in to improve his speed, Hatton told media members at his grand arrival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Tuesday that he's still the same "British Bulldog" he's always been. The only difference is, "The bulldog's learned new tricks."

"Everybody seems to think that since I entered this new training camp I'm this twinkle-toe boxer," Hatton said.

"I'm still aggressive, I'm still a body puncher, I'm still as ferocious as ever. I don't think I've changed a great deal, I've just gotten more polished in certain areas. This is the best Ricky Hatton's ever been."

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