Hatton diary: Rocking the house

Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final diary entry, exclusive to Yahoo! Sports, from Ricky Hatton, the No. 10 fighter in the Y! Sports pound-for-pound poll. Hatton fights No. 1 Manny Pacquiao at super lightweight Saturday night on HBO Pay Per View in the biggest fight so far in 2009.

LAS VEGAS – For every fighter, the moment of stepping into the ring is a truly special and unique experience. No one who hasn’t donned a pair of gloves in anger could possibly imagine the emotions that are stirred.

But in my career I feel I am lucky in that every time I fight I get two spectacular occasions to savor.

One, of course, is fight night itself, and I know exactly what is at stake when I take on Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

The other, thanks to my incredible army of fans who have journeyed over from the United Kingdom, is the weigh-in.

I remember early in my career, when the only people watching me stand on the scales were my Dad and my trainer. Sometimes there weren’t many more at my fights.

On Friday afternoon though, thousands of screaming, singing, cheering Brits waited for two or more hours just to see me make the weight at exactly 140lbs for the fight of my life.

Photo My people showed up in force at Friday’s weigh-ins and I hope to give them reason to cheer Saturday.
(Associated Press)

It is hard to describe what an incredible honor it is to have these people, good, honest, hard-working men and women, spending their money and giving up their vacation time to see me fight.

That sort of loyalty deserves victory and I am determined to make every single one of them proud.

Pacquiao is the pound-for-pound champion for a reason and he is a great fighter. But that title of the world’s best is coming back to England, carried on the shoulders of my fantastic fans.

I couldn’t believe it when I looked out from the stage and saw a sea of British support up in the stands. That level of spirit and devotion is something I will never take for granted and it inspires and humbles me at the same time.

We had heard there would be a lot of Filipinos there for Manny, but their voices were totally drowned by my magnificent lot.

There was the brass band that follows the England football team, a couple of characters clad as Batman and Robin and even a bunch of middle-aged lads dressed up as women, complete with make-up, wigs and mini-skirts.

While I was still backstage, announcer Michael Buffer joked that swine flu had come to the U.K. but there was no one left for it to infect because everyone was in Las Vegas to watch me. Sometimes it feels that way – everywhere you look there are Brits.

I love to see my fans having a good time and I know they have been enjoying Vegas and all the excitement it has to offer.

However, I know that I am in the best position to make sure their trip over here is one to remember, and that’s by sticking Pacquiao on his backside and winning the fight.

We are so close now and I can’t wait to get started. All the running, training, watching my weight and technical preparation is over.

It feels like most of the so-called experts have made up their minds about this contest already and feel that Pacquiao will have too much speed for me. Let’s see about that.

There is a saying that is always used in English football – take one game at a time – and it really is dangerous to look too far ahead.

Having said that, when people ask me what is next for Ricky Hatton after this fight I give them an honest answer.

If I beat Manny then all I would really feel was left for me would be to avenge my only defeat, to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and to fight Juan Manuel Marquez, the No.2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

I am not even contemplating losing, I am so confident in my preparation and my ability for this fight. But I have to admit that if things didn’t go the right way then I would have to think very seriously about retiring.

Enough said about that.

It is now time to get my game face on, to hydrate up and take in plenty of carbs. I will put on 14 pounds or so before Saturday night and I will be a lot heavier than Pacquiao, who weighed in at two pounds under the limit, when we touch gloves.

Thank you for following my Yahoo! Sports diary for the past couple of weeks. You’ve read my thoughts and emotions as the big night has got closer and I hope I can count on your support in what should be one of the best fights of the year.

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Updated Friday, May 1, 2009