Hatton ready for Mayweather
Appeal Sports Writer
“Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather has gunned down all 38 of his professional opponents and now the United Kingdom is sending a “Hitman” – undefeated Ricky Hatton – to knock off Mayweather and make him his 44th straight victim.
The 30-year-old Mayweather, of Las Vegas – the recognized welterweight champion of the world – will defend his WBC belt against the 29-year-old Hatton, of Manchester, England, Saturday at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, in an HBO Pay Per View event beginning at 6 p.m.
In addition to a perfect record and the strap, also at stake is Mayweather’s mythical pound-per-pound championship.
“What it would mean? It would mean everything,” Hatton said of winning in a conference call last week. “I mean, being a world champion was obviously the dream of every youngster who starts off boxing, but I’ve become the best fighter in my weight division (140 pounds) when I beat Kostya Tszyu. But to become the best fighter in the world in any weight division…It will be the biggest win in British boxing history.
“I just can’t wait. I believe I’m going to do it. These are the days you’ve dreamed off. It’s massive, it’s huge.”
The bout will be a contrast in styles – the aggressive, all-out attack of Hatton (who has 31 knockouts) against the masterful defensive and selectively powerful offensive game of Mayweather, whose blinding hand speed and accuracy has led to 24 knockouts.
“Yes, he has a lot of strengths,” said Hatton, who has won titles at 140 and 147 pounds. “I think he waits for his opponent and when it’s me he shouldn’t be waiting too long, because someone who is constant and on you all the time as me, who doesn’t really tire and who gets stronger in the fight, he doesn’t want to wait around too much.
“He’s got fantastic hand speed. But I think my styles or attributes diffuse what he does. I mean, speed is a good thing, but I move in very, very quickly on me opponents and stick to them like glue for long periods. He’s struggled against people that have put the pressure on him…(Jose Luis) Castillo the first fight, against (Oscar) De La Hoya – I wouldn’t even call that pressure, to be honest with you. If that’s what pressure is and he tends to not like pressure, then I think he’s got a whole lot of trouble coming his way.”
Hatton compares himself to his idol, Roberto Duran, who like Hatton was a vicious aggressor in the ring, but out of it was just as aggressive when he hit the dinner table.
“I have a lot in common with my hero,” Hatton said of Duran. “We never take a backward step. We’re very, very passionate. We’re very, very fiery characters. And yes, we have enjoyed ourselves. I mean a lot of people would say, ‘Well, that will affect your longevity.’ I suppose it can. I mean, Floyd has tried to insult me by calling me Ricky Fatton, but what he doesn’t realize is I’ve called myself Ricky Fatton in the first place.
“I do put on a lot of weight (up to 40 pounds) in between me fights, and that’s the whole reason I’m putting a Ricky Fatton T-shirt on after the fight, because for so many years now fashion critics have turned on me and said, ‘Well he’s too (heavy).'”
Hatton said the critics should look at his record, not just his between-fights physique.
“You’ve been going on about this for the last maybe six, seven years, and in that time now I’ve won four world titles, two weight divisions,” Hatton said. “(Now) I’m fighting the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. So maybe it’s time you should stop pointing the finger at my weight because obviously, whatever I’m doing, it’s working for me.
“I always feel the need before I start training camps to be out of shape. And I need to put loads of weight on and I need a bit of a mountain to climb so I knuckle down to it. I mean, the beauty thing about boxing’s training efforts is that there’s no right way or wrong way. That’s what makes me what I am, you know? It might not work for everyone. Floyd doesn’t put an ounce on between his fights, but every fighter is different and that’s what makes it such a unique sport.”
Staying in shape is only one reason why Mayweather has won titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds. He also has a unique way of getting into his opponents’ heads, usually by talking a lot of trash – something he has done to Hatton.
But Hatton says Mayweather’s disrespectful ways don’t bother him in the least.
“It’s not getting under me skin,” Hatton said. “I think he’s an insecure person. I think that’s why he surrounds himself with five or six bodyguards, and they always seem to be yes men.
“And he always needs people whispering in his ear, “You’re the man, you’re No. 1, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. And that’s all a sign of insecurity. You don’t need anybody whispering in your ear, to tell you that you’re the best. If you believe you’re the best, then you don’t need anybody reminding you or reassuring you.”
Hatton said he respects action and substance more than words and appearances.
“He’s not exactly what you call intimidating-looking with his nice suits on and his bling,” Hatton said. “He doesn’t exactly make me want to run away down the street. He knows that I’m not scared of him, and he knows that I believe I can win. So I think, especially when we did the promotional tour, I think when he realized what little reaction he got from me, I think that would have affected him more than me. He really does not bother me when he insults me. From the bottom of me heart, I couldn’t care less.”
Hatton also discounted concerns raised on the HBO series “24/7” that Mayweather’s hands are giving him trouble.
“It’s common knowledge that Floyd has bad hands,” Hatton said. “(If he loses to Hatton), I hope Floyd Mayweather doesn’t blame it on the (‘Dancing With The Stars’) and doesn’t blame it on his hands.”
Hatton’s promoter for this fight – De La Hoya – said he thought a lot of people who bet on Mayweather – a 2-1 favorite – would be losing their money. Hatton agreed.
“I think everybody has picked Floyd to win this,” Hatton said. “I think very few people are picking me to beat him, which really suits me fine. In fact, I wouldn’t give two s—- if everybody picked Floyd Mayweather because I know what an oh-sweet victory that’s going to be when I do it. And the last time nobody give me a chance was against Kostya Tszyu and we made him quit, and I think I’m going to make Floyd quit.”
Hatton questioned whether Mayweather has what it takes to deal with the pressure he brings.
“I’ve been groomed for this level,” Hatton said. “To beat Ricky Hatton, I think maybe you need that firepower to stop me coming. I mean if you don’t hurt me, I’ll keep coming all night. I mean that’s one thing you’ve got to do. I’ll keep coming all night unless you hurt me. And has Floyd got the power to hurt me?
“I have no doubt at times in the fight he might lead me on a bit of a merry dance and put me off with his speed and his wonderful boxing ability. But can he do it for 12 rounds?”
Those questions – along with who will walk away still undefeated – will be answered Saturday, when Pretty Boy Floyd and Hitman Hatton settle their shootout in the Las Vegas desert.