The anticipation is growing and the stage is now set for two of boxing's biggest stars, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao and IBO Junior Welterweight Champion Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton to meet in "The Battle of East and West," Saturday, May 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
These two boxing artists, who will rumble for Hatton's title, will have a 20 x 20 foot canvas to paint a black and blue masterpiece that the world is anxiously waiting to see.
Pacquiao and Hatton boast a combined record of 93-4-2 (68), a winning percentage of 94% and a victory by knockout ratio of 73%. The bout will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
"When Manny Pacquiao goes into the ring, he fights for his country, the Philippines, and millions of Filipinos worldwide," said Bob Arum, Chairman, Top Rank, Inc.
"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 Oscar de la Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions. "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."
"MGM Grand is thrilled to be hosting what we anticipate will be one of the biggest fights of 2009," said Richard Sturm, president of Sports and Entertainment for MGM Mirage.
"As we continue our tradition of hosting the top names in sports and entertainment, this spectacular boxing match will not only be a battle between two great champions but will offeran electric and international atmosphere for the fans."
"Pacquiao-Hatton features two of the sport's biggest and most exciting stars, the Pacman against the Hitman, in a battle to determine who is The Man," said Mark Taffet, HBO Senior Vice President of Sports Operations and Pay-Per-View.
Pacquiao, 48-3-2 (36) secured his claim as the 2008 Fighter of the Year, a year reminiscent of what Hall of Fame fighter Henry Armstrong did in 1937-1938, winning three fights in three different weight divisions, two of which were world titles.
Armstrong is the only man to hold three world championships simultaneously, capturing world titles at featherweight, welterweight and lightweight during a nine-month span between November 1937 and August 1938.
Pacquiao, officially proclaimed a National Treasure by the Philippines, captured the WBC Super Featherweight title last March by defeating Juan Manuel Marquez and the WBC Lightweight title in June by knocking out defending champion David Diaz.
He completed his personal trifecta by stopping Oscar de la Hoya in a welterweight battle on December 6. Pacquiao's last two victories were in his debut fight in each weight division with the latter fight being two full divisions above his previous fight.
Pacquiao, 30, has won 24 of his last 25 bouts, blitzing through boxing's best fighters since 2003 including Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Marquez, Diaz and De La Hoya.
Pacquiao was previously named the 2006 Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine.
"I always like new challenges and this is why I am anxious to fight Ricky Hatton," said Pacquiao. "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.
"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 and around the world."
The storied career of Hatton, 45-1 (32), an international superstar hailing from Manchester, England, began in 1997 and for the last 12 years he has been thrilling fight fans around the world with his aggressive style in the ring and down to earth attitude outside of the ring.
Owner of victories over world champions Kostya Tszyu, Vince Phillips, Paulie Malignaggi, Luis Collazo, Jose Luis Castillo, Juan Urango and Carlos Maussa, Hatton is a two division world champion.
He fell short of the pound-for-pound best fighter title and world welterweight championships in his 2007 super fight against Floyd Mayweather.
However, the 30 year old bounced back impressively at his natural weight of 140 pounds last May when he scored a near shutout 12 round unanimous decision over Juan Lazcano.
His most recent fight was a scintillating shutout performance against world champion Malignaggi last November, ending with an 11th round TKO for "The Hitman."
Hatton was honored as the 2005 Fighter of the Year by Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
"I'm really excited to get back in the ring in Vegas after knocking out Malignaggi in November," said Hatton. "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 2nd."
Pacquiao vs. Hatton "The Battle of East and West," presented by Rockstar Energy Drink and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank in association with MP Promotions and Hatton Promotions is a 12-round bout for Hatton's IBO and Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight title.
The fight is also sponsored by Cerveza Tecate and Southwest Airlines. Tickets, priced at $1,000, $750, $500, $300 and $150, can be purchased through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available online at www.mgmgrand.com.
The Pacquiao vs. Hatton pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $49.95, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to more than 71 million pay-per-view homes.
The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Pacquiao vs. Hatton fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com.