Pick for the most part is Mayweather | NevadaAppeal.com

Pick for the most part is Mayweather

MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer

The Nevada Appeal polled three neutral trainers and current ESPN2 Friday Night Fights commentator Teddy Atlas on the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton fight and the verdict is in: Atlas and two of the trainers – Emanuel Steward and Ronnie Shields – took “Pretty Boy” Floyd, while Jesse Reid took “Hitman” Hatton.

The 30-year-old Mayweather, 38-0 with 24 knockouts, of Las Vegas, and the 29-year-old Hatton, 43-0 (31), of Manchester, England, will meet in a 12-round battle for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight championship Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas.

The bout will be televised by HBO Pay-Per-View.

More important than his belt being on the line is Mayweather’s mythical pound-for-pound crown, which he further cemented when he moved up to 154 pounds and beat Oscar De La Hoya for a title in his fifth weight division May 5.

Hatton, a former 140-pound world champion, moved up in weight and defeated WBA welterweight titlist Luis Collazo in 2006, but was far from impressive in doing so. Hatton followed that fight with another lukewarm performance (a 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Urango for the IBF junior welterweight belt), but rebounded on June 23 with a four-round knockout of Jose Luis Castillo at 140 pounds.

Mayweather, who has won titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds, is a 2-1 favorite in the bout.

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“Logic dictates that you have to go with Mayweather,” said Steward, who in addition to his duties as an expert analyst for HBO, recently trained former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor. “Regardless of what some people may think, he’s a fantastic fighter. He may talk and all that (BS), but he’s still a great fighter – a phenomenal fighter. Based on his talent and skill, I’m going with Floyd.”

Shields, who until recently trained lightweight champion Juan Diaz, was a little more adamant in his choice.

“Floyd Mayweather is going to beat the hell out of him,” Shields said with a chuckle. “I think it will be a good fight. Hatton is such a good competitor and he comes to fight. But Floyd is in a class all by himself right now. I haven’t seen a style that Floyd hasn’t been able to handle.”

Reid, who trained Floyd’s trainer -Roger Mayweather – and his father Floyd Mayweather (they have different middle names, so “Little” Floyd doesn’t call himself Jr.), said he has seen a style that Pretty Boy couldn’t handle and it can be found on YouTube.com.

Reid taped a sparring session several years ago between an out-of-shape Mayweather and Reid’s soon-to-be IBF lightweight champion, Paul Spadafora. Reid said Mayweather came into the gym loud and abrasive and disrespected Spadafora.

Reid said he knew Mayweather was out of shape and would go into his shell defense, thus insisting the sparring session go six rounds. Reid had Spadafora box aggressively and pressure Mayweather, which he did, resulting in what Reid said was two closed eyes for Pretty Boy.

“He was ready to quit after two rounds, but I said, ‘Oh no, you’re going six,'” Reid said of Mayweather. “When it was over he was laying down for 20 minutes. I think Hatton’s got a shot. The reasons why are, from what I’ve seen of Mayweather as a welterweight, he’s not knocking out welterweights and he doesn’t take pressure well.

“I thought Castillo won when he fought him the first time. And Paul Spadafora isn’t a puncher, but Mayweather has troubles with pressure. When Mayweather goes into a shell, you have to punch with him. Hatton’s one of the best pressure fighters around.”

Atlas, who trained former world heavyweight champion Michael Moorer and a young Mike Tyson, said Mayweather is the more versatile, complete fighter.

“You’ve got to favor Mayweather,” Atlas said. “He’s the best package from an athletic and well-rounded standpoint. He can fight on the inside when he wants to and he can fight from the outside. He’s also a fighter. People may have forgotten that, like they did with Sugar Ray Leonard.

“Like Leonard, they are so talented that people forget they are also fighters. They have neon – the stuff that shines like speed and athleticism – but they also have essence, which is the most important thing. They have the ability to behave like a fighter when they have to. Sugar Ray Leonard did.”

But all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold and Steward said Mayweather can’t afford to take Hatton lightly.

“Hatton’s an undefeated fighter and he’s high-intensity,” Steward said. “He’s the most intense fighter I’ve seen since Mike Tyson. Tyson would only be intense for four or five rounds; Hatton’s that way the entire fight. And he’ll have an unbelievable crowd (traveling from the United Kingdom) to cheer him on.

“If Floyd isn’t completely focused, or if he hurts his hands, it’s gonna be a rough night. Hatton’s the type of guy I wouldn’t want to fight myself. He’s like Kelly Pavlik (who came back from an early knockdown to knock out Taylor). It makes for a tough fight.”

Shields said Mayweather has evolved as a fighter.

“Back when he fought Castillo the first time, he wasn’t as mature as he is now,” Shields said. “Floyd has learned to make adjustments early in fights now. I don’t think Ricky Hatton can.

“I think it will go to a decision. Floyd isn’t a big puncher and that kid (Hatton) takes a great shot. I think it’s a good fight early and Floyd starts pulling away in the sixth or seventh round.”

Reid said he wouldn’t bet on Hatton, considering the odds, but he said he’d like to see what happens if Mayweather is forced to get his heart-rate up.

“I think Hatton will cut the range down and stay on his ass,” Reid said. “He might get busted up a bit, but he’ll come right at him. Hatton will have a large English crowd behind him. Mayweather may have his corner rooting for him. He’s so cocky. I think someday that cockiness will catch up to him.”

Atlas said Hatton has been able to rise to the occasion in important fights.

“In a big fight with Castillo, he knew he had to be ready for his top effort and he was able to step his game up mentally, emotionally, physically and technically,” said Atlas, who added that Hatton has been able to intimidate opponents and create distance for his punches because of that. “Mayweather won’t leave as many gaps there – that’s important. It makes for a very competitive, interesting fight.”

And that, among other things, is what makes this a can’t-miss fight.