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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 12:06 GMT
Hopkins hyped for Vegas fight

By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

Bernard Hopkins
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.

Bernard Hopkins

"Now, I must say, you've got to dig in your pockets and give me $50, because that was one hell of a speech, one of the great ones! If you paid me $10,000 to repeat it, I'd be $10,000 poorer because I can't remember what I just said..."

So ended my chat with Bernard Hopkins, former middleweight king, American boxing legend and one of the most charismatic men I've met in sport.

Continue reading to find out what Hopkins had to say about this weekend's clash between Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather - it's almost 100% verbatim, and it's absolute gold!

(A little tip: Hopkins has a similar delivery to Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson, so try using the Pulp Fiction star's voice to get the most out of this piece.)

"I see something in Hatton, I think he's the focused fighter out of the two.

"I saw something at the press conference without physical punching, in their body language and demeanour, that gives me a reason to believe that Ricky Hatton is more up for this fight and the challenge than Floyd.

What Ricky Hatton has that none of those fighters had is constant energy, punching and pressure - and he's got good whiskers

Hopkins on Hatton

"Floyd has made things look so easy over the last three or four fights, which isn't his fault. But I don't believe he thinks Ricky Hatton has what Oscar de la Hoya had or Zab Judah had.

"But what Ricky Hatton has that none of those fighters had is constant energy, punching and pressure - and he's got good whiskers.

"Ricky is not just a slugger, when a guy is putting pressure on you and he's willing to take four or five punches to give one or two.

"That's not Ricky. Ricky is willing to be that slugger, but to throw punches in bunches, and that's rare in boxing today.

"Henry Armstrong [the only man to hold world titles at three different weights at the same time] fought that way, Wayne McCullough [Belfast's former bantamweight world champion] fought that way.

"They never backed up and that's a dangerous guy because you can't keep him off you.

"[Former three-weight world champion] James Toney was famous as a middleweight for rolling the right shoulder, hiding the right hand and taking your head off.

"It works great against one, two, three punch guys, but Ricky is throwing non-stop punches, and it's hard to come back.

606: DEBATE
kragzie

"And I've never seen Ricky get tired. So I believe Mayweather's style of rolling and baiting, that's not going to work against Ricky.

"I don't think I've seen Floyd fight against anyone who throws rapid punches, with sting on them, coming at him top to bottom, from different angles.

"I believe Ricky Hatton is going to throw more punches than Floyd Mayweather ever did. Floyd Mayweather throws a lot of punches, but Ricky Hatton throws a lot of punches.

"Ricky is A+ in the energy category, he's the Energizer Bunny. He throws punches even when he's getting hit and befuddles you.

"And you've got to remember, we're in Vegas, and Vegas doesn't necessarily believe in who's throwing the hardest punches should win the round. The busier fighter, the more aggressive fighter will win this fight.

"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'.

Floyd will realise he has a little bit more power than Ricky and will be looking for power shots when Ricky is throwing four or five shots

Hopkins on Mayweather

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

"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.

"Floyd will realise he has a little bit more power than Ricky and will be looking for power shots when Ricky is throwing four or five shots. As the rounds go on, that will be a big factor.

"It will be an exciting fight. We'll all be on our feet, whether you be from England or from the project across the block.

"It will be about whoever is busier and who sticks to the game-plan even when it ain't working. That sounds contradictory. But even though your plan is not working in the first round, you've still got 11 to go.

"It's a fight for Ricky to win, it's a fight for Floyd to lose.

"Floyd is considered to be the best fighter in the world, and I echo that. We all know he can fight. But can you still fight like a hungry man, even though you're considered to be the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world?

Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton
Who wants to cross the line and knock on the door of greatness? That's what we'll see Saturday.

Bernard Hopkins

"How can you separate yourself from Dancing With The Stars [Mayweather was still competing on the show in October], the undefeated record, the world titles at five different weights? When do you become soft, mentally and spiritually?

"Can you fight like a hungry man when your refrigerator is full? Can you keep that fire lit? 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.

"And when it comes down to that cut on your eye in the eighth round, when you're tired and it's a ball-burner of a fight, you've got to reach within and fight like a hungry poor man instead of a rich famous man.

"That's going to be the biggest factor on Saturday night. 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?

"Who wants to cross the line and knock on the door of greatness? That's what we'll see Saturday.

"The boxing world and boxing's hype is on Floyd's shoulders. That can be positive because there are perks that come with that. But it can be a heavy load to carry. When you become the pound-for-pound best, everybody's looking for more than the norm."



SEE ALSO
No time for tears in Vegas
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton's girl quits to see fight
07 Dec 07 |  Manchester
'Undefeated' comes to the boil
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hopkins tips Hatton for victory
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton scuffles with Mayweather
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton's battle with the bulge
30 Nov 07 |  Boxing
Hatton must win in four - Lewis
02 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Shortlist revealed for BBC award
30 Nov 07 |  Sports Personality


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