So who’s 0 will go on Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena when unbeaten five weight division champ ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather 38-0 (24 KO’s) takes on unbeaten two division champ Ricky ‘The Hit Man’ Hatton? Let’s break it down.
We’ll start out with the physical stuff. Floyd is a bigger guy than Ricky. At about 5’8” Mayweather will have over two inches on Ricky, no big deal there, but Floyd’s seven inch reach advantage could be a factor if Floyd is able to use it to his advantage and Ricky is not able to nullify it by getting inside. I don’t think it will matter all that much as Floyd will, at times, languish on the ropes to show off his tremendous defensive prowess and Ricky is great at getting on the inside. He will attempt to constantly come forward, just ask Kostya Tszyu. Floyd is probably a little physically stronger as well. Some underestimate his strength, as did Oscar De La Hoya in their fight seven months ago in the same ring as Saturday night. Mayweather is faster and quicker than Hatton and nearly everyone else on the planet, for that matter!
Time to talk offense as this one could be interesting to break down because so much of what Mayweather has and can do offensively we only see glimpses of or in spurts. Floyd has all the great tools, a very good stick (jab), excellent right hand which he can throw at you in triples, quadruples and beyond. He has a nice placement left hook to the body and head, but does not use it enough. His accuracy is the best in the game. Ricky has a good jab, right hand, left hook and hooks especially to the body, just ask his last opponent Jose Luis Castillo whom he stopped in round 4 with a body blow.
Ricky is not the naturally gifted offensive fighter, but he is smart and has worked very hard on the real skills needed to be the best he can be when engaging and engaging is what he does best. His pure tenacity and ferocity are his greatest offensive weapons. But I will tell you when Ricky was on IN THIS CORNER and did our In Ring Segment, he was excellent at explaining and demonstrating that there is a real method to his offensive mayhem.
Defense, well Floyd is on a planet of his own. He is a parrying, picking off punches machine, most of which he does with his elbows and arms. His reflexes and ability to sense what is coming at him next are extraordinary, no doubt from all the wonderful mitt work he does with Uncle Roger. Floyd seems to be the only fighter in the world with peripheral vision while in battle. He is the best in the world at defense, his opponent is not. Ricky sometimes gets wild, sometimes comes in too squared up and really does not have the best head and upper body movement. Two reasons for this, one is that he is just not naturally God gifted in those areas, and the other is he is so offensive minded he knows his best defense is a big time offense. Floyd is nearly the opposite.
The intangibles with this one, well, it’s tough to say. Is Floyd still hungry after defeating the guy he wanted to most in De La Hoya, and making more money than he should be able to spend? Did the stint on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and with all the other fame that came with HBO’s 24/7 made him somewhat vulnerable? It did not look that way the day I spent with him at training camp a few weeks back. Plus he has too much pride to come in lackluster. He is all business as a fighter.
As for Ricky, will this big stage outside of Manchester be too much for the little guy? Will fighting in Floyd’s backyard be a distraction? How can it be when it will be like fighting at home the way the crowd will react when he makes his way towards to squared circle Saturday night? Just think about it 16 to 20 thousand Brits are making their way over for this. More than 75 or 80 percent without knowing how their even going to see the fight, yet they love this kid that much. Does any fighter in this country have that appeal? Not even in their own backyards. So for Ricky having the weight of his Nation behind him can and will only help him in his uphill quest to beat boxing best fighter in the world.
Keys to victory for Floyd Mayweather to keep his 0; he must use his jab just enough to slow the frenetic pace of Hatton rushes. Mayweather needs to catch Hatton coming in and try and hit him with some solid right hands to bust him up. I noticed Floyd, despite those brittle hands, really setting down on some shots when I watched him spar 10 rounds a few weeks back. On the inside Floyd needs to land a few uppercuts then tie up Ricky. He is strong enough to do that. Floyd needs to try and keep his back off the ropes and keep the fight moving round the ring at the MGM.
As For The Hit Man, well he needs to hit, hit, hit and hit, and know that he will have to get hit in return. When Floyd lays on the ropes ready to pick off shots with his arms and elbows, thwarting off any head and even solid body shots, Ricky should take what he is given, those arms and, yes, those elbows. So many an old-time fighters would tell me how they would target and try and break an opponents elbows to render him defenseless. Sounds so simple, but it can work, only most trainers today are concerned about their cell phones working than a real fight strategy. Not these two trainers. Roger Mayweather with Floyd and Billy Graham with Ricky have done a very good job of preparing their fighters and will do a good job Saturday night, but as legendary trainer Angie Dundee, who I’ll be interviewing for a future show this weekend, has said so many times, the corner can say whatever they want, but the fighter has to be able to go out there and fight the fight.
So who will fight the fight on Saturday? I believe that Floyd will come out a bit more offensive than we have seen him in the past, but then settle down into doing what he does best; finding a way to win and doing it by coming into as little of harms way as possible. I believe Floyd does not have a sense that Ricky can hurt him as De La Hoya had the potential to, thus I believe Mayweather will take a few more chances, kind of like he did with Arturo Gatti. Hatton being a fresher and better fighter now than Gatti will make it a much better battle but in the end I see him getting busted up and beaten in the later rounds.
But one thing for sure, and I left this out when mentioning the intangibles, Ricky has a much bigger heart than his frame, at least his frame when he is Ricky Hatton and not Ricky Fatton, and sometimes in Boxing, big heart can be better than any combination ever thrown. It usually though is not enough to beat a great boxer like Mayweather. Floyd wins via 11th round tko.
Best of luck and thanks to both ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather and Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton for making this fight.