When East Meets West, Where Do the Fans Go?

Joe NixonCorrespondent IApril 30, 2009

While HBO and the promoters have built the fight up as a match-up between an Englishman vs. a Filipino.

In the Los Angeles Press conference, Jim Lampley went so far to paint the picture of Manny Pacquiao, conqueror of Mexico, now faces the entire British Empire.

Make no mistake, an eager legion of Englishman will be there to support Ricky Hatton and a larger contingent of Filipino fight fans will make it to Las Vegas this Saturday night.

Both Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton have worked to court fight fans outside of there fanbase in this fight and previous fights as we.

At the same Los Angeles Press Conference where HBO Jim Lampley declared that Pacquiao was taking on the British Empire a large contingent of disillusioned Latino fight fans showed up in the hundreds to see: Ricky Hatton!

Indeed, hundreds of fans gathered across the street to cheer for Ricky Hatton. Ricky Hatton seemed to embrace these fans and its not the first time Ricky Hatton has reach out to Mexican fight fans.

He’s celebrated Mexican Independence day with his good friend Marco Antonio Barrera, he’s worn a sombrero into the ring, and he briefly changed his name to the “Manchester Mexican.”

Hatton once told Nuts Magazine on the precursor to the Jose Luis Castillo fight "I've got a lot of fans in Mexico and I've got a good friendship with their former world champion Marco Antonio Barrera.

"So, the idea is just to broaden that Mexican fanbase by coming into the ring dressed as 'The Manchester Mexican', with the sombrero and poncho.

Whenever I go to see Marco fight, his fans come up to me for pictures and say: 'Hey, Ricky, you're the white Mexican!... I'm only 5ft 6ins myself, but you feel like Gulliver when you go to Mexico! They're all hard people. They come from hard backgrounds and that's why they can all fight like crazy.

Manny's rapid rise came at the expense of Mexico's great fighters dispatching of them on a triumphant march through boxing’s weight classes like Hernando Cortez marching through the Aztec empire.

This has ruffled some feathers amongst some fight fans. Still, the great majority of Latino fight fans have a deep respect for Manny Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao has cultivated friendships with other Mexican boxers like Antonio Margarito and Julio Cesar Chavez.

Manny has also sought a new group of supporters for this fight, right in Ricky Hatton’s backyard.

Manny Pacquiao is apparently a big fan of the film Braveheart and has repeatedly through out the press-tour Manny Pacquiao has used comedy to reach out to fight fans in Scotland. At some press stops he has been known to do an impersonation of Mel Gibson in the movie and claim that he is Fighting for freedom! Fighting for Scotland! You can even find Youtube

videos of Pacquiao talking in a Scottish accent and claiming to hail from Scotland while on tour in the UK. At the Wild Card Gym, the above image has been posted a sign has been hung up closed for "Fighting for Freedom against the Englishman."

The images includes Celtic nationalist symbols: such St. Andrews Cross and Shamrocks . The image was featured in HBO’s first 24/7 episode and is meant to draw on both Manny's "Scottish" background but also Freddy Roach's Irish heritage.

Since the last time I visited the Wild Card Gym a new Scottish flag has been added to the windows of the Gym as well to join the Irish tricolour.

Perhaps Manny Pacquiao is conjuring one of the forgotten areas of Philippine history when the Philippines was seized by an entrepreneurial English military officer named William Draper in the name of the Crown and held for two years until it was returned to Spain as result of the end of the Seven Years War (or the French and Indian War as it is known in the United States).

How will this all play out in Saturday's fight? Will either of these fan-minority groups be visible in the arena this May 2 in Las Vegas? Regardless fans of all backgrounds should hold onto their sombrero and expect a great fight.