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August 30, 2014

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De La Hoya says no flu fears for Pacquiao-Hatton

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Steve Marcus

Boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya is shown during a news conference promoting the fight between boxers Manny Pacquiao of Philippines and Ricky Hatton of England at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada April 29, 2009. The boxers will meet for a 12-round, junior welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday. STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN

Pacquiao, Hatton Make Arrivals

Manny Pacquiao's mother, Dionisia Pacquiao, traveled to the United States for the first time Monday to be with here son for his megafight against Ricky Hatton Saturday night at the MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

CDC experts discuss swine flu

CDC experts talk about the swine flu.

The first case of the swine flu was discovered in northern Nevada today, but concerns that the deadly disease would have any impact on Saturday’s megabout between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao in southern Nevada were quickly squashed at a press conference at the MGM Grand.

“There's no concern about it here now," retired boxing star and co-promoter of “The Battle Between East and West” Oscar De La Hoya told the AFP on Wednesday.

"All signs are we're going to have a successful promotion."

Nevada's first confirmed case of the H1N1 strain was detected in a 2-year-old Washoe County girl, making the Silver State the 10th state in the country to detect the flu that originated in Mexico and caused its first U.S. death Monday night to a Mexico City toddler who traveled to Texas to visit family.

While Las Vegas is some 300 miles away from the border, health concerns for the fight between two of the world’s most popular fighters intensified because of the large number of spectators still flying in for Saturday’s bout. Hatton said he believed 10,000 to 15,000 British fans to come from overseas to support him.

The Philippine health chief encouraged dozens of Filipino legislators to abandon plans to visit Las Vegas to watch Filipino star Pacquiao.

But De La Hoya insisted while the situation that prompted The World Health Organization to upgrade its alert level even higher on Wednesday, would have zero impact on fight night.

"Swine flu is a huge concern," De La Hoya said. "It's a health issue and nobody wants to catch it. It's in the back of people's minds.

“I think we're going to provide some great entertainment on Saturday. That's what boxing is all about. I don't think people for that hour are going to be thinking about the swine flu."

But among the sellout crowd of 15,000, there will likely be a good number of fans from Mexico in attendance as Mexico’s Humberto Soto (47-7, 30 KOs) will put his WBC super featherweight crown on the line against Canadian Benoit Gaudet (20-1, 7 KOs).

Two other Mexican fighters, Omar Chavez, of Culiacan, and Ernesto Zepeda, of Tijuana, are also fighting in undercard bouts.

The pound-for-pound king Pacquiao, told a Filipino TV station that he would “be washing his hands” often and admitted he feared possibly catching the flu because of his interactions with so many people during fight week.

Whenever the “Pac-Man” returns to his native Philippines, he will have to go through the same stringent procedures every other inbound visitor is required, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Even Manny Pacquiao will be screened,” Duque III told the INQUIRER.

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