Published Friday, May 1, 2009 | 5 p.m.
Updated Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 2:53 a.m.
- Hatton’s No. 1 fan leads charge to ring (5-1-2009)
- All talked out (4-30-2009)
- ‘Pac-Mom’ makes first U.S. visit to see her son fight (4-28-2009)
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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.
Round one goes to the Brits.
The large majority of fans attending Friday’s weigh-in for Saturday’s megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton were on “The Hitman’s” side, and if there was any doubt about it — the flag-waving, song-chanting, pint-drinking pro-Hatton supporters made sure the rest of the 5,000-plus crowd heard about it at every possible opportunity.
“I just wanted to say thank you to all the fans,” said Hatton, who tipped the scales right at the 140-pound mark for his junior welterweight fight against Pacquiao, who came in at 138.
“Thanks to the U.S. fans, the Filipino fans and especially the British and fans from England. The party has already started.”
A constant chant of “There’s only one Ricky Hatton” reverberated throughout the MGM Grand Garden arena, drowning out ring announcer Michael Buffer and event host Mario Lopez's on-stage conversation.
The pound-for-pound king, who came out dressed in a traditional Filipino-colored, red, white and blue jumpsuit and sunglasses, was actually met with a smattering of boos when he flexed his muscles after shooting the mandatory face-off photos with Hatton.
True to their form this entire promotion, Hatton and Pacquiao played the part of gentlemen, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.
Even their outspoken trainers managed to avoid the spotlight as neither Floyd Mayweather Sr. nor Freddie Roach pulled any verbal punches in front of a crowd full of fans waving Union Jacks and flags from the Philippines, as well as a pep band that fired up their percussion instruments throughout the hour-long festivity that resembled an English Premier soccer party.
Recently retired boxer and Golden Boy head Oscar De La Hoya said he was glad he was out of the game so he could enjoy the atmosphere with Hatton’s large legion of fans.
“When you have the Brits come over for Hatton, this is by far the biggest and best crowd I've ever seen," De La Hoya said. "I'm glad I retired so I can go have a pint."
De La Hoya was joined on stage by boxers, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, Amir Khan and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“I love this typo of atmosphere, it’s going to be great,” Mosley said. “I know Hatton is very strong, but Pacquiao is the pound-for-pound king, so you have to respect that.”
While British fans heavily outnumbered Pacquiao's Filipino contingent, other than the few boos, the two groups interacted without problems.
"It's just a great atmosphere for this one, we drank with some Englishmen last night and it's a very friendly vibe," said David Custodio, who along with three friends traveled from Barrow, Alaska.
The group decked out with Filipino flags and colors said they felt like they were on top of the world as they snapped photos at the weigh-in with some British fans seated directly behind them.
Custodio and his crew, all born in the Philippines, would know the feeling better than anyone else in the crowd, considering Barrow is the northernmost settlement in North America
It was a little harder to figure out how Hatton fan Steve Walker's sentiments.
First you had to get past the burly Brit's long blond wig and "beer-leading costume".
Complete with wigs and skirts, Walker and five friends wore tops that spelled out "F-a-t-t-o-n" in honor of Hatton, who sometimes wears a fat suit during entrances to the ring.
"We actually weren't drinking when we came up with this," Walker insisted with a laugh. "There's just something special about Vegas and we wanted to be part of the show."
Back on stage Pacquaio thanked his Filipino fans in the stands and said Saturday would be a special night for not only those watching in the boxing capital, but worldwide.
"I want to make you guys happy," Pacquiao said. "We're going to have a great fight.”
The heavy underdog, Hatton, who estimated there are 25,000 Brits in Las Vegas this weekend, spoke the last words before his band and fans fired back up his chant and a rendition of "God Save the Queen."
“It's going to be an honor to fight for you Saturday night and you will not go home disappointed," Hatton said, as a sea of applause reigned upon him.