Boxing champs Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton may have been the picture of perfect gents before their historic bout in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) but their coaches had no problems dishing the dirt on each other during the final press conference for the match.
In a report by ABS-CBN reporter TJ Manotoc, Hatton's trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr. started the fireworks by calling out to Pacquiao's trainer -- Freddie Roach.
“What's up Freddie ‘the Joke’ Roach? Or should I call you the cockroach?” said Mayweather, which Roach laughed off.
Continuing the word war that started between them when the May 2 bout was confirmed, Mayweather said Roach's ward is strong but is no match for the true pound-for-pound fighter, Ricky Hatton.
He said Pacquiao rose to fame by beating "over-the-hill" fighters including Oscar de la Hoya, who, ironically, was right next to him. “At the end of the night, it will be the Hitman by KO," Mayweather said.
Roach, however, gave no quarter to Mayweather and criticized the trainer for not giving his own fighter the respect he deserved.
“Trainer's late for training everyday, passing by Burger King, late for a world champion? What a slap in the face. I don’t think he's that good of a trainer. Ricky's a great guy, I wish him well, but Manny Pacquiao's the man right now," Roach said.
Pacquiao and Hatton also said their piece on the podium. In his report, Manotoc said Pacquiao's and Hatton's faces were dry “from losing all the weight.”
Both prized fighters made known their respect for one another.
Hatton said: “It doesn’t scare me being in this position again, this is my weight division. Manny is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I understand I am the underdog.”
He added that it does not scare him because he has been the underdog in previous fights, which he won.
“The key is to back him up, put the pressure, use my height not my height but my size, and my power advantage, which will be my advantage… I've got very underestimated speed. I showed you a glimpse of that against Malignaggi, I’m a lot better technical fighter now, I think I've got the tools to do the job,” he said.
Pacquiao said there was nothing personal about the fight. "We just do our job to give a good fight to the people and make people happy, and of course especially to Filipino people that are hoping for my victory on Saturday," he said, adding that he will do his best to bring honor to his country.
Promoters amazed by media attention
Meanwhile, the fight’s co-promoters, Bob Arum and de la Hoya, said they were amazed with the response, hype and attention the fight has gotten.
Both promoters said that what is interesting about Saturday’s fight is that it is the “first mega fight that does not involve a Mexican nor an American.”
According to Manotoc, “Arum mentioned that Americans nowadays don’t just want to watch American boxers or Mexican boxers. They really know how to appreciate how the sport has gone global.”
Arum also said that the MGM Grand Garden Arena is totally sold out and they are expecting huge receipts from the pay-per-view.
"Americans aren't just focused on Americans fighting. They will be entertained and see great fighters from each ends of the earth,” he added.
De la Hoya, for his part, said that he has talked to a lot of people who are interested to watch the fight “because of the respect that they have for these two boxers and what they have done in their careers.”
Manotoc said the global appeal of the “Battle of East and West” was evident as the final press conference included not just American sportswriters but a big contingent from Europe and media members from the Philippines.
Manotoc also shared that Mommy Dionesia Pacquiao was present in the conference.
“Bob Arum acknowledged her. She stood up like a beauty queen, waved to everybody. She’s a like a celebrity here,” Manotoc said of Pacquiao’s mother.
The public can see more of the Mayweather-Roach showdown in a live exclusive three-minute sit down interview on HBO.com. HBO is currently airing its 24/7 series on the Pacquiao-Hatton fight.—with a report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News