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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 December 2007, 11:39 GMT
Hatton's a winner

By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

Ricky Hatton having a drink after his loss to Floyd Mayweather
Bloodied but unbowed: Hatton contemplates his first defeat
It was a desperately poignant moment: a look of embarrassment came over Ricky Hatton's face, he turned away from the press scrum and he said "sorry".

Sorry for what? For taking British sports fans on one of the most exciting rides in recent memory? For always being open, engaging and funny?

For turning up on the night and fighting like a lion? For losing to a great boxer like Floyd Mayweather?

Las Vegas has never seen anything like this week, and perhaps it never will again, and that's all down to one man, and that's Ricky Hatton.

It was just his misfortune to run into a magnificent fighter at the top of his game. Slick, powerful, with a good set of whiskers, Mayweather was even able to out-dirty Hatton on the inside.

He wasn't just too big, he was too quick, too crafty, too strong and he hit too hard. As legendary trainer Angelo Dundee said before the fight, "Mayweather will just be too much for Hatton to chew".

Not even Hatton's fans, who must have numbered 15,000 in the MGM Grand, were able to faze him, and all those who failed to recognise his genius before this fight will be well aware of it now.

Hatton could have fought a smarter fight, he should never have lost his head when docked a point in the sixth round, but Mayweather would always have found a way.

Hatton has roused a nation badly in need of a fillip following the desperate failure of its football team and he is almost single-handedly responsible for Britain falling in love with boxing again

"I knew I was going to have to show versatility," said Mayweather, now unbeaten in 39 fights, "I knew he was rough and tough and wasn't going to lay down. But a real champion can adjust to anything."

The 30-year-old Mayweather, who, despite hinting at retirement, will surely fight on, was as gracious as could be after the fight - the mind games over, another 'W' in the bag.

"You're not gonna disrespect him here, he's one hell of a champion," said Floyd before Hatton entered the post-fight news conference, and both fighters embraced when the Englishman took to the stage.

'Pretty Boy', virtually unmarked, even shed a tear when it was his turn to talk before introducing Hatton to the entire Mayweather clan. If only he could always be as classy, but, hey, he's got tickets to sell and the fans love a villain.

What now for Hatton? There has been talk of a fight against six-weight world champion Oscar de la Hoya at Wembley next summer, but that now looks like a foolhardy adventure.

Ricky Hatton was dignified in defeat
I gave it my best shot: Hatton gestures to his fans after the bout

De la Hoya is a former middleweight world champion and, as Hatton's trainer Billy Graham has repeatedly pointed out, his charge is a light-welterweight and nothing more.

But, of course, money is the bottom line, and a super-fight with De la Hoya in front of 80,000 at Wembley will buy Hatton a lot more Guinness than a match with Puerto Rico's former light-welterweight world champion Miguel Cotto.

Whatever the 29-year-old from Hyde decides to do, he can be proud of his achievements over the last week.

He has roused a nation badly in need of a fillip following the desperate failure of its football team and he is almost single-handedly responsible for Britain falling in love with boxing again.

So Ricky Hatton has nothing to be sorry for and every reason to be proud.



SEE ALSO
Leaving Las Vegas
10 Dec 07 |  Boxing
How Mayweather beat Hatton
09 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Mayweather v Hatton photos
09 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton v Mayweather build-up
08 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hatton's girl quits to see fight
07 Dec 07 |  Manchester
No time for tears in Vegas
06 Dec 07 |  Boxing


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