By Ronnie Nathanielsz
British trainer Lee Beard who works with Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton is eyeing Edwin Valero as a sparring partner for the IBO light welterweight champion as he prepares for his showdown with Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao.
Valero (24-0, 24 KO's) is scheduled to face Antonio Pitalua for the WBC lightweight interim title on April 4 in San Antonio, Texas.
Titled “Battle of East and West” the eagerly awaited bout is scheduled for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2.
In an interview with Craig Gibson on the Hatton website, Beard said Valero is “the only one that’s near to Pacquiao in terms of style. I think if you can adjust to him then it’s the closest thing you can get to Pacquiao.”
Beard said Valero’s record “would suggest that he hits as hard if not harder than Manny.”
Beard warned that if Pacquiao “is allowed to get into a rhythm in the first few rounds it will be a very difficult fight for Ricky.” That’s why the trainer made it clear that Hatton “needs to make sure that he works hard in the gym to work on certain things to avoid Manny getting into that rhythm.”
The confident trainer who is expected to be working with Floyd Mayweather Sr when Hatton gets to Las Vegas predicted that “the first time Ricky gets hold of him and unloads, Manny won’t know what hit him.”
Beard pointed out that Hatton is a big light welterweight and has been in with some huge punchers like Kostya Tszyu and Juan Urango and added " obviously they don’t have the speed of Manny but Ricky has seen the speed before in Mayweather.”
The trainer said around five weeks would be “an ideal amount of time” to adjust and get into Las Vegas time as well as having “plenty of time for hard training.”
Hatton’s father Ray Hatton said his son would probably spend two weeks preparation in Manchester prior to leaving for Las Vegas.
Since Pacquiao and Hatton are almost the same height, Beard said “their styles could mean their heads clashing” and with Pacquiao preferring the Cleto Reyes puncher’s gloves “cuts are a concern.” However, Beard noted that Hatton “hasn’t been cut badly in a while” so he was not thinking too much about cuts.