I've rounded up the best links and a number of informative videos for the mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton Saturday night. Whether you're a newbie or die hard boxing fan, this should just about top you off.
As usual, I begin by directing you to my own work. I wrote up the keys to the fight in two parts. I deconstructed the terrible undercard. I provided a prediction, which explained, in large part, why the fight matters and why it will be good. I'll do a live blog for the fight Saturday.
Need more basic information? Try checking out the respective records of Pacquiao and Hatton. Read about the most recent fights of Pacquiao and Hatton from this site. In the right column of this blog, observe their placement among the pound-for-pound list of best fighters alive (#1, #8). Hatton is the Ring magazine champion -- the only belt that matters because it's lineal, i.e., it dates back to the time when there was only one champion per division -- at junior welterweight. Pacquiao is going for his fourth lineal belt in four divisions, something no one has ever done, period.
I could spill a trillion words on this event -- I basically have -- but you're still better off just seeing each man in action. The HBO "greatest hits" short video collections of Hatton and Pacquiao are below. (Although since Hatton has fought on other U.S. networks before, his biggest win, against the legendary Kostya Tszyu, isn't included. You can watch the ending of that here.)
If you haven't caught Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7, the "reality series" building up to the fight on HBO, it's as slickly-produced as television gets, and it sells the fight and the personalities of Pacquiao, Hatton et al incredibly well. HBO's website has some clips of the series, but if you're not doing anything Friday night, you can see the entire series, including the yet-unaired final installment.
If you don't have time for that and don't know the personal stories or personalities of both men, here's the short version. Pacquiao, a Filipino, ran away from home as a teen after his dad ate his dog, and he spent time selling cigarettes on the street before going into boxing. He sings and acts and goes to college and runs for legislative office and owns a basketball team and pitches products on commercials and donates tons of money to charitable efforts in his homeland. He has a serene, almost hippie-like sense about him, and I don't mean that condescendingly; he may be the nicest boxer in the sport, one whose fights for his poor homeland unite and inspire to such a degree that his promoter, Bob Arum, says that, among his countrymen and people, he eclipses Muhammad Ali in popularity. Hatton had a less insane early childhood in Great Britain, and he's exceptionally close with his parents, with his dad managing his career. He is no less likable than Pacquiao. He drinks and throws darts and pulls pranks and does stand-up comedy on the side and draws thousands of fans to his fights in the United States not just because he's a good, exciting fighter but also because he comes off like a man of the people. He fights for the pride of those people, whom he feels he let down when he failed to defeat the previous #1 pound-for-pound man, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
A website set up for the fight offers more interviews and whatnot. (An aside: What's the thinking behind the commercial for the fight on that site -- the one running on television all the time that emphasizes Pacquiao is from the Philippines and Hatton is from the U.K. -- and calling the fight "The Battle of East & West?" I obviously don't care where the hell they come from, and a lot of boxing fans don't, but I simply don't understand why they're playing up in an American market that these guys aren't Americans. Americans like to see Americans. If anything, I think you downplay that they are foreign. Aside over.)
What predictions are boxing cognoscenti making about this fight? Bettors make Pacquiao the favorite. HBO's broadcast team offers its insights. A bunch of British fighters and fight figures offer their predictions, varying between their man Hatton and Pacquiao but mostly going with Hatton. A recent Pacquiao opponent, David Diaz, offers his point of view. Hatton's last opponent, Paulie Malignaggi, offers his, and offers it and offers it and offers it. David and Paulie don't like Hatton's chances.
In the mainstream media, The Wall Street Journal gives the fight some treatment. As does USA Today. ESPN's Fight Credential offers a great collection of pieces, like a review of each man's biggest fights.
Maxboxing examines how big the fight will be. Naturally, one promoter is making wild declarations and the other is predicting a more reasonable sounding pay-per-view number. You guess which is which Either way, I think 1 million buys would be a resounding success, 750,000 is about right, and much less than that and this fight is a big box office disappointment.
Will the winner of this fight get Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who may make his unretirement official this weekend? (Also in the mix as future opponents -- Miguel Cotto for Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez for Ricky Hatton.)
Because you won't be able to get the song out of your head for months, might as well get started now, like you're innoculating yourself against a virus.