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December 22, 2014

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No. 2: Pacquiao, Hatton love Las Vegas

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Steve Marcus

Ricky Hatton of England, left, battles it out with Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the U.S. during their WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas December 8, 2007. Mayweather knocked out Hatton in the 10th round.

Starring on boxing's biggest stage

Manny Pacquiao (left), of Philippines, sends Erik Morales, of Mexico, to the mat for the third time during their super featherweight fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 18, 2006. Launch slideshow »

Pacquiao Workout

Junior welterweight boxer Manny Pacquiao, center, of Philippines laughs with lightweight boxer Amir Khan, right, of England during a workout in a gym in Las Vegas, Nevada April 30, 2009. Assistant trainer Michael Moorer is at left. Pacquiao will take on Ricky Hatton of England in a 12-round bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday. Launch slideshow »

Pacquiao vs. Hatton Press Conference

Boxers Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton exchanged pleasantries and predictions Wednesday at the last press conference before their Saturday fight at the MGM Grand.

East and West Meet in Vegas

With the megafight scheduled for Saturday, Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton made their official arrivals to Las Vegas Tuesday. Pacquiao was instantly mobbed when reaching his superstitious stay at Mandalay Bay, while Hatton was able to address the crowd at fight-site MGM Grand.

Fightcasters

Battle of East and West

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Show host Andy Samuelson discusses Saturday's megafight between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao with Sun sports writers Jeff Haney and Brett Okamoto.

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.

It might as well be written in each contract. If you choose boxing as an occupation, sooner or later, you're coming to Las Vegas.

Stockbrokers work on Wall Street, actors work in Hollywood, the President works at the White House. Big-time boxers work in Las Vegas.

"It's definitely the fight capital of the world," said local professional boxer, Johnny Frazier. "When I decided to come here to train, I opened a phone book, closed my eyes and put my finger down to pick a gym. In a city with this kind of history, I knew I couldn't go wrong."

Which is why it should be no surprise that both Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton have fought some of the most critical bouts of their respective careers on the world-famous Strip.

Hatton is 3-1 in Las Vegas, the only blemish a 2007 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. that remains “The Hitman’s” only loss of his career.

He scored an easy TKO win in the 11th round over Paulie Malignaggi at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last November. In a 2007 matchup against Mexican fighter Jose Castillo, Hatton earned the win by knockout with a stinging left hook body shot.

"Obviously, the Mayweather fight was an occasion I don't think Vegas has seen the likes of often," said Hatton's father, Ray. "Hopefully we'll see that again with this fight."

While Hatton's reputation as an icon in the United Kingdom is slightly diminished when he travels to he U.S., Hatton says he feels quite comfortable in Las Vegas.

"He feels at home in Vegas, he says it's like a second home to him now," Ray said. "People in America, when he first came on the scene, saw his antics and thought he was all for the camera. Now they realize what you see is what you get."

Pacquiao is 7-1-1 in Sin City, claiming the first IBF title of his career with a sixth-round TKO over Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in his debut here in 2001.

It was the first of many memorable Las Vegas moments for Pacquiao, who fought Erik Morales three times, took down Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera by unanimous decision in 2007 and Oscar De La Hoya by TKO in last December's "Dream Match."

"The Oscar fight was really big because a lot of people didn't give us a chance, it was great to just prove everybody wrong," said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. "That's the best way to get back at people is to win."

Even with all the Las Vegas classics, Roach's favorite Pacquiao fight in the U.S. came in 2003, when Pacquiao took on the heavily-favored Barrera for the first time in San Antonio, Texas.

"My favorite fight was actually when he beat Barrera the first time in Texas, that really opened up the eyes of a lot of people," Roach said.

"He wasn't supposed to win that fight, Barrera was really on the top of his game at the time. That's when Manny's popularity really started to hit. That rivalry just got bigger and bigger."

But it’s not too late for a Las Vegas fight to steal the heart of Pacquiao's trainer, as Saturday night's “Battle of East and West” carries the potential to define each fighter's career.

That fact was blatantly obvious after large contingents of fans showed up at both Pacquiao an Hatton’s grand entrances at Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand on Tuesday.

"Just look at the turnout and we're days away from the fight," said Hatton shortly after stepping out of a gold limo to loud applause at the MGM.

"I don't know if there's been any fighter that's brought the type of atmosphere that my fans bring to Las Vegas. This should be an even bigger occasion than Mayweather, because here you have the Filipinos and the Brits."

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