Saturday night, Manchester's Ricky Hatton will defend his junior welterweight championship against American Floyd Mayweather before 20,000 rabid Brits in M.E.N. Arena. Because of Hatton's swarming style, and troubles Mayweather has had returning to 140 pounds, British bookmakers have this an even-money fight.
To explain the betting line, some have cited Hatton's 42-fight unbeaten streak at junior welterweight, noting that Mayweather treated the 140-pound division as no more than a three-fight way station between title fights at lightweight and welterweight.
Many British fans are also counting on European judging to alter Mayweather's defense-first style. They believe every time Hatton's fists make contact with any part of Mayweather's body, thousands of voices will assist the scorekeepers. Faced with the prospect of unsympathetic judging, Mayweather will have to go for a knockout, planting his feet and trading with Hatton. A great fight is inevitable.
Oh, there's the alarm.
Unfortunately for Hatton, and fight fans the world over, the above is fictitious -- a dream of how things could have gone. Instead this Saturday, Floyd Mayweather will defend his welterweight championship against Ricky Hatton before 12,000 late-arriving casino guests and 4,000 British boxing fans in Las Vegas. American fight aficionados expect plenty of suspense but little action.
|Will Ricky Hatton be able to stop Floyd Mayweather? (AP)|
Whatever the odds and opinions of American experts, Hatton -- fiercely likable even before standing beside Mayweather -- remains convinced he'll win. And why shouldn't he be? Hatton brings more tools in the ring with him than any of Mayweather's previous opponents, save one. And by the time Mayweather came to Oscar de la Hoya, the Golden Boy was semi-retired and guaranteed to fade after Round 9.
In an open letter last month, Hatton explained how his tactics would put the first blemish on Mayweather's record. The letter contained a valid argument that arrived at an erroneous conclusion. Still, it was a reminder that, whatever laymen see in Hatton's style, Hatton does a lot of thinking in the ring.
Other evidence of Hatton's savvy came in June when he stopped Jose Luis Castillo with a body punch. That bears repeating. Noticing how Castillo covered his abdomen, Hatton threw a combination that caused Castillo -- a Mexican prizefighter taught even to sleep with his right elbow protecting his liver -- to leave himself open for a left hook to the body. Hatton's much more than a mindless punching machine.
Recently, he said he doubts Mayweather is taking him lightly. He also said if Mayweather beats him, he'll acknowledge Mayweather was Saturday's better man. Hatton will offer no excuses, in other words. This was another reminder of why Brits -- and if we're being honest, most Americans -- prefer Hatton to Mayweather.
While it seems most chaps in Manchester relate to Hatton, no American relates to Mayweather. Those downtrodden souls Mayweather "keeps it real" for couldn't conceive of throwing hundred-dollar bills at a television camera, or having a lackey retrieve them. And so far as the foolish behavior of wealthy Americans goes, one might have to revisit the Kennedy clan to outdo Mayweather.
America's welterweight champ, recently appearing under the moniker of "Money May" -- perhaps because "May" rhymes with "Undefeated" -- has taken to calling himself the greatest fighter of all time. Unsatisfied with yanking the words right out Muhammad Ali's mouth, Floyd and his uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, have gone after bigger game.
"Money May," with his 38 wins, now wonders how much better he is than Sugar Ray Robinson -- who won 350 percent more fights. When asked about these silly assertions on a recent conference call, Roger Mayweather offered this: "I ain't interested in what you think either because I'm asking you a question."