Hatton-Pacquiao bout set for May 2
Updated: January 28, 2009, 9:00 PM ETBy Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
The month-long saga of the Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao deal is finally over.The much-anticipated fight, pitting junior welterweight champ Hatton and pound-for-pound king Pacquiao, is signed, sealed and delivered, promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy announced Wednesday. They'll fight May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight will be on pay-per-view, but the promoters have not decided whether they will accept an offer from HBO or rival Showtime to produce and distribute the pay-per-view telecast. If they accept the Showtime offer, sister network CBS will have some involvement in the marketing and promotion of the bout, according to Top Rank's Bob Arum. Top Rank and Golden Boy thought they had a deal for the fight weeks ago until Pacquiao insisted on a better percentage of the revenue. After back and forth, Pacquiao missed a deadline to sign and the fight was called off. That resulted in a frenetic few days spent trying to revive the deal. In the end, they worked it out last week with Pacquiao due to receive 52 percent to Hatton's 48 percent, according to Arum. Business aside, the bout matches two of the world's most popular fighters in easily the biggest fight of the first half of the year. "I always like new challenges, which is the reason I am anxious to fight Ricky Hatton," Pacquiao said. "My trainer Freddie Roach will put together a new game plan, which will be much different than the one we used against Oscar [De La Hoya]. There are concerns because Hatton is a very strong puncher so I must deal with that in the ring. I promise I will be completely prepared and will do my best for all of my fans in the Philippines." Pacquiao, who will earn a minimum of $12 million, will be fighting in his fourth different weight class in four fights. He won the junior lightweight championship last March via split decision against Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao then moved up to lightweight, where he knocked out David Diaz in the ninth round to claim a title, before jumping up to welterweight, where he destroyed De La Hoya in eight one-sided rounds on Dec. 6. Now, Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) will be dropping to the 140-pound junior welterweight division to challenge Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs), who has ruled the weight class since stopping Kostya Tszyu to win the title in June 2005. "I'm really excited to get back in the ring in Vegas after beating [Paulie] Malignaggi in November," Hatton said. "I am confident that I am the fighter to take down the pound-for-pound champion and I believe I will be victorious on May 2." Tickets for the bout go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster with prices at $1,000, $750, $500, $350 and $150. "When Manny Pacquiao goes into the ring he fights for his country, the Philippines, and tens of thousands of Filipinos worldwide," Arum said. "He is a tremendous athlete and unlike any other champion we have ever promoted. When Manny walks to the ring he carries the weight of his country on his shoulders and he fights with all of his heart, every second of every round. We are very excited that this fight has been made, as it is the fight fans wanted and the one I look forward to seeing myself." Said De La Hoya, the president of Golden Boy: "We are very excited that this fight has been made, as it is the fight fans wanted and the one I look forward to seeing myself. This fight has all the makings of a fight of the year candidate and I think Hatton will dethrone Pacquiao and become boxing's pound-for-pound king." Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.