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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 December 2007, 16:16 GMT
Hatton fired up for Vegas clash
By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

TALE OF THE TAPE
Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton
Mayweather....v............Hatton
30..................Age..................29
5'8................Height...............5'6
72'...............Reach.................66'
38 ................Wins..................43
24..............Knockouts.............31
0.................Losses...................0

Hatton v Mayweather
Date: Sunday, 9 December
Starts from: 0400 GMT approx
Location: Las Vegas
Watch: Sky pay-per-view
Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live and online (UK only)
Updates: BBC Sport website and mobile

Britain's Ricky Hatton insists he is ready to defy his underdog status and beat Floyd Mayweather in what has been billed as the fight of the decade.

Mayweather has won world titles at five weights and is recognised as the world's best pound-for-pound fighter.

"You can't argue with his record or what he's done but all good things come to an end," Hatton told the BBC.

"On Saturday night it comes to an end. It will be an eight or nine round stoppage for Ricky Hatton."

Hatton, who has yet to taste defeat in 43 bouts, is not as quick but has steeliness and confidence on his side.

He weighed in two pounds under the welterweight limit ahead, while Mayweather came in exactly on the limit at 147lb, with the two being held back as they faced each other down on the scales.

A fired-up Hatton addressed the 6,000 raucous British fans inside the MGM Grand hotel, with many more outside.

"What can I say for a turnout like that, absolutely fantastic," he said.

While most boxers arrive in Las Vegas with entourages, Hatton arrives with the whole of Manchester in tow.

606: COMMENT
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs

In the early hours of Sunday, people all over Britain with a minority interest in boxing will be watching him fight.

If the outcome of his bout for the American's WBC welterweight crown were to be decided by public vote, Hatton would win by a landslide.

But the sport of boxing is far less sentimental than that and Mayweather's camp are determined Hatton will not claim victory on a wave of emotion.

Mayweather's trainer and uncle Roger said: "We've had Rocky 1 to 6 - we ain't gonna have a Rocky 7."

The 30-year-old Mayweather is a special fighter. In another time, when boxing ruled the world, he might have been a household name to rank alongside the Sugar Rays - Robinson and Leonard - and Muhammad Ali.

But the fact that he isn't doesn't make him any less of a talent.

Yes, he is arrogant. Yes, he is brash. But popularity is not going to be a factor once the bell sounds for the first round at the MGM Grand.

Middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins is one of the few Americans who thinks Hatton, 29, has what it takes to upset the odds.

It's a question of styles, Ricky's got the artillery to break him down

Billy Graham
Hatton's trainer

Constant pressure, non-stop punching, shots thrown from every conceivable angle - Hopkins believes Mayweather will not have experienced anything like it before.

But others, Britain's former super-middleweight world champion Richie Woodhall among them, are not so sure.

Woodhall points out that if Mayweather were to hold his feet and stand toe-to-toe, he would surely struggle with Hatton's onslaughts.

But Mayweather, who despite the flashy demeanour is as prosaic a fighter as they come, is not concerned with putting on a show for the millions watching around the globe.

The hometown fighter, who is undefeated in 38 professional encounters, is only concerned with protecting his record, and if that means moving around the ring and jabbing Hatton's head off for 12 rounds, then so be it.

If the American - who has six inches more reach - decides as expected to fight from long range, there is a risk that Hatton could be clawing at thin air.

As for Hatton's famed body punching, his trainer Billy Graham believes his charge will force a stoppage if he manages to land enough shots to Mayweather's ribs.

But with Mayweather not willing to stand and fight at close-quarters, that's a very big if.

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

There is also the matter of cuts, about which both Hatton and Graham have expressed public concern.

Hatton has a top-class cuts man in Mick Williamson, but Mayweather's right hand, delivered in a slashing motion, could prove to be the decisive weapon.

All in all, not much hope for Hatton then? Well, some have suggested that Mayweather, who has earned approximately $100m [49.3m] in his career from purses alone, might have gone soft and might be under-estimating his opponent.

As Hopkins puts it, "Can you fight like a hungry man when your refrigerator is full?"

But there was little evidence of complacency in his victory over Oscar de la Hoya back in May, and most American journalists believe he has never trained so hard.

All signs point to a 12-round victory for Mayweather but Hatton's confidence and tenacity will provide his legions of fans with hope.

SEE ALSO
Hatton's girl quits to see fight
07 Dec 07 |  Manchester
Weigh-in frenzy
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hopkins tips Hatton for victory
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hopkins hyped for Vegas fight
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton scuffles with Mayweather
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing


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