Ricky Hatton believes he is “the best he has ever been” heading into Saturday’s showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
The “Hitman” takes a 42-1 (32 KOs) record into the light-welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and is unbeaten in the 140-pound division, his lone defeat coming at 147 pounds when he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr in the same ring nearly 17 months ago.
The Las Vegas oddsmakers think he is heading for the second defeat of his career when he goes in against Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), who is widely considered to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Hatton begs to differ and points to the technical skills he has added to his arsenal under new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr that he believes have made him a more rounded fighter.
“This is the best Ricky Hatton’s ever been,” Hatton declared last night.
“I haven’t lost too many rounds at junior welterweight, never mind fights, because I’ve been too strong.
“But it’s not just about ’the strongest man wins’ in a boxing match. Other elements come into it, technical things, the game plan, things like that.
“Technically I was back to my best in my last fight and that was after only seven weeks with my new team.
“I think the difference between my last training camp and this one is night and day, technically.”
Hatton said he had realised his go-forward, brawling style was not going to cut it with the best boxers in the world after he was “humbled” by Mayweather Jr in December 2007.
Despite beating Juan Lazcano in his comeback fight in Manchester last May, the Mancunian turned to his victor’s estranged father Mayweather Sr and the switch has paid dividends.
“In years gone by I’d always shown in glimpses I had a good jab and boxing ability but in too may fights I hadn’t been showing it,” he said.
“In all my fights I thought I was just going to roll over every one.
“Obviously when I fought Floyd Jr he humbled me and showed me that I’d better go back to basics, even though that fight was at 147 pounds.
“It showed me that you can’t steamroll everyone.”
That said, Hatton assured fans he was not leaving behind his aggression, nor would he be reverting to his less disciplined brawling style.
He said: “I am a pressure fighter. You couldn’t say for the Malignaggi fight that I resorted back to the old Ricky Hatton.
“Everybody thinks because of my new trainer that I’ve turned into this twinkled-toed jab-and-move boxer. I haven’t.
“I’m still aggressive, I’m still a body puncher, still as ferocious as ever; technically, I’ve just peaked it here and there, jabbing more, moving more, setting my attacks up.
“Everybody is saying I’ll resort back, but resort back to what? I don’t think I’ve changed a great deal, I’m just more polished in certain areas.”