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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 11:30 GMT
Hopkins tips Hatton for victory
By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

Mayweather and Hatton square up
Hopkins says Mayweather's "bad mitts" could cost him the fight

Hatton v Mayweather
Date: Sunday, 9 December
Starts from: 0100 GMT
Location: Las Vegas
Watch: Sky pay-per-view
Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live and online (UK only)
Updates: BBC Sport website and mobile

Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins has tipped Ricky Hatton to defeat Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas this weekend.

Hopkins said he expected Hatton to "out-hustle Mayweather to a 12-round unanimous decision" in the early hours of Sunday morning, UK time.

"I see something in Hatton, I think he's the more focused fighter," Philadelphian Hopkins told BBC Sport.

"Hatton is going to throw more punches than Mayweather ever did. The busier, more aggressive fighter, will win."

Hopkins added the 30-year-old Mayweather, who will be defending his WBC welterweight belt, might be under-estimating his opponent.

"I don't believe Floyd thinks Ricky has what Oscar de la Hoya had or Zab Judah had," said the 42-year-old Hopkins, now campaigning at light-heavyweight.

Mayweather has bad mitts, and when you have bad mitts, you're always thinking, 'If I punch this guy, I've got to go eight more rounds with a sore hand'

Bernard Hopkins

"But what Ricky has that neither of those fighters had is constant energy, punching and pressure - and he's got good whiskers.

"Ricky is willing to be a slugger, but to throw punches in bunches, and that's rare in boxing today, and that's a dangerous guy because you can't keep him off you.

"That will be the difference in this fight. There will be some exciting moments early on, but at the end of the day, Ricky Hatton out-hustles Floyd Mayweather to a 12-round unanimous decision."

Hopkins also suggested that Hatton, 29, might be the hungrier of the two and that Mayweather, a world champion at five-different weights, could be battling complacency.

"Floyd is considered to be the best fighter in the world, and I echo that. We all know he can fight. But can he still fight like a hungry man?" said Hopkins.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs

"Because I'm telling you, when that fire's not lit, you can't train the same, you go through the motions, you can't think the same, spiritually you're not the same.

"Who's going to be able to suck it up, forget about all the medals they've won, all the belts, all the pound-for-pound accolades and the 'zeros' on their records? That's going to be the biggest factor on Saturday night."

Mayweather has complained of fragile hands in the lead-up to the fight, and Hopkins said they could also play a big part in the outcome.

"Mayweather is a slightly bigger puncher, but he has bad mitts, and when you have bad mitts, you're always thinking, 'If I punch this guy, I've got to go eight more rounds with a sore hand'.

"Ricky Hatton throws so many punches, Floyd can't afford to hurt any knuckles on his hand."

Former light-welterweight king Hatton goes into the bout, billed "Undefeated", with a 43-fight unbeaten record, while Mayweather is unbeaten in 38 professional contests.

The fight is expected to start at about 0400 GMT, although it depends on the length of the fights on the undercard.



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