Opposites attract

Ricky Hatton is being given a puncher’s chance heading into this Saturday night/Sunday morning’s much-anticipated welterweight world title fight with ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.

Rated, not least by himself, as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the business, the American – a six-time champion in five different weight classes – has never lost in 38 bouts. However, Hatton’s record reads 43 and 0. Something has to give, then.

Lennox Lewis reckons ‘The Hitman’, who plans to adopt is usual seek-and-destroy style, needs to “go in like a madman” and look for a knock-out, preferably within 4 rounds.

“I am 200 percent going to do it,” says Hatton, promising “controlled aggression from the heart” – if there is such a thing.

For the Mancunian to lose, “I really do think he’s going to have to kill me,” Hatton says, knowing, thankfully, that Mayweather isn’t particularly heavy-handed as he proved in defeating an over-the-hill Oscar de la Hoya (the ‘Golden Boy’ promoter of this weekend’s Sin City spectacular) last time out.

Indeed, Mayweather, 30, hung up his gloves immediately after that points victory but was quickly and easily called out of retirement by Hatton.

The Englishman’s training has gone off without a hitch and, given his notorious battles with the bulge between fights (he once turned up for training 40lbs overweight; a habit mercilessly mocked by his trash-talking opponent), he appears, as his heroes Oasis would say, mad for it.

Hatton, who once quipped “I have a lot on my plate at the moment” when asked to explained his tendency to balloon, certainly looks in immaculate condition from the preview footage running for weeks now on Sky Sports (the bout is only available via subscription on Box Office).

It will be the second time Hatton has stepped up from his usual light-welterweight level of 140lb, where he looked less than comfortable the last time, though that might be explained by his decision to opt for takeaways rather than muscle mass when beefing up.

The bout is being billed as ‘the King of Bling versus the Godfather of Guinness’ (”If there was such a thing as re-incarnation, Floyd would come back as himself,” says Hatton of his preening opponent, whose lavish lifestyle is a far cry from Ricky’s humble routine.).

If he can cause an upset, Hatton, whose last fight saw him stop Jose Luis Castillo in Nevada last June – a boxer who nearly beat Mayweather at Lightweight in 2002 – he will establish himself as one of the greatest British fighters of all-time. He’s already one of the most popular.

Either way, one undefeated record will go by the wayside, unless there’s a draw. A rematch would be worth a fortune.

Welsh super-middleweight world champ Joe Calzaghe will be ringside in the MGM Grand Garden Arena – “Mayweather’s backyard” – and acknowledges that Hatton, whose strength is his strength (he can leg press over 1,100lbs and lifts the equivalent of 90 tonnes in a work-out) may struggle to cope with Mayweather’s speed and skills.

But, he says, “Ricky’s a great body-puncher… [and] all being well, I could have a few celebratory Guinnesses with him afterwards – and hearing the money he got for fighting Mayweather, he’s buying!”

As well as receiving an MBE last January, Hatton, 29, has made an estimated stg£12m from his ten-year career to date and plans to retire after four more fights. But, as with most boxers, seeing will be believing. Mayweather can lay his hands on four times’ Hatton’s fortune and he’s still risking it all one more time.

Quitting when they’re ahead?

Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack, who was reportedly at the peak of his powers in the Bronx at the weekend, says a number of senior players may walk away over the ongoing selectors row in the Rebel county. (Christ they’re contrary down in Cork… City win the FAI Cup and they’re still killin’ each other.)

Speaking from the All Stars trip to New York, the county hurling goalkeeper and GPA chairman says it’s not so much a case of players threatening not to tog out (sure sounded like it a few weeks ago) but rather fellas deciding to quit altogether.

“When Christy Ring left, Cork hurling continued on. You don’t get paid for this, so in a way it’s not a strike. They just won’t be part of it and if more guys want to be part of it, that’s fine.

“Guys believe in the principle of this thing. Either you believe it or you don’t. Hurling is my life, that is what I get out of bed in the morning for. But in terms of selling yourself, guys just won’t do it”.

So lads are going to walk away with nothing after all the fighting they did to get a few grand out of the Government? We’ll wait and see.

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