Mayweather Thumps Hatton and Solidifies His Top Spot in Boxing’s P4P
By Alex Pierpaoli
This time Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather made it look easy as well as pretty.
Dominating the bout with clean counterpunching and lightning bolt lead right hands, undisputed Welterweight Champion Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather Jr. needed just ten rounds to finish off Ricky The Hitman Hatton and solidify his consensus position as the top fighter in the sport pound-for-pound. A huge left hook counter-punch in round ten that caught Hatton near the ear and sent him face first into the ring post produced the first of two highlight reel knockdowns that handed Hatton his first defeat and firmed up Mayweather’s position as one of the very best fighters of 2007.
From the start Hatton closed the distance between the combatants easily, but Floyd was able to absorb his assault and could catch Hatton with hard counters as he rushed forward. Arms up and grabbing when he needed to, Mayweather used his longer arms and sturdy forearms to hold Hatton back and keep the Brit pressing forward and exerting himself. For his part, Hatton was often his own worst enemy, so intent to get close he often smothered his own shots, leaving himself no room to punch and forced instead to fall into clinches. The partisan and extremely vocal crowd cheered for Hatton’s charges and sang a re-worked version of Winter Wonderland ad infinitum but the cold reality of Mayweather’s cracking power punches seemed to squelch some of their energy.
Despite a valiant and persistent effort from the Mancunian challenger, Floyd Mayweather controlled the fight by landing more effective punches throughout, even in rounds where Hatton’s aggression kept Mayweather retreating or pressed back into the ropes. Mayweather’s skilled in-fighting, as well as a negligent Referee Joe Cortez, often had Ricky Hatton eating Mayweather’s counterpunches along with his elbows and forearms once chest-to-chest.
As a junior welter and lighter, Mayweather used his arms coupled with fluid upper body movement to deflect punches or let them slip harmlessly off his shoulders and forearms, but on Saturday night it certainly didn’t look as clean and legal as it used to.
Much of that is the fault of Ref. Joe Cortez who seemed inexplicably hard on Ricky Hatton’s infractions while oblivious to Mayweather’s. Repeatedly in the bout Mayweather forced a forearm up into the throat of Hatton or used his head to bull his way into some breathing room on the inside. But in round six it was Hatton who lost a point when Ref. Cortez penalized him for taking a swipe at the back of Floyd’s head, even though the foul looked to be more of a glancing blow. The point deduction clearly affected Hatton psychologically and forced a shift in the fight’s momentum, but how much it actually changed things is open to argument.
Floyd Mayweather never looked uncomfortable at all, even in the rounds he lost (KOFantasy had the bout 87-83 in favor of Mayweather at the time of the stoppage). Even the rough mauling between the fighters favored Mayweather despite the close quarters rumble being typical Hatton territory; Floyd seemed even capable of out Hattoning Hatton.
In the end Joe Cortez pulled Mayweather away from Hatton as trainer Billy Graham sent the white towel into the ring, and Hatton, on rubber legs, collapsed for the second time.
Afterwards, Floyd Mayweather spoke to HBO’s Larry Merchant and again Pretty Boy suggested retirement or at least a long layoff. But with Cotto, Margarito, Williams and Mosley all looming large in the division retirement seems unlikely.
As the crowd filed out, Ricky Hatton’s all-fan impromptu intoxi-chestra, just like the band on the Titanic, went right on with the Walking in Hatton Wonderland even after Hatton had looked funny walking. But maybe it was more of a musical salute as there was certainly no shame in the ballsy kid’s effort versus the best fighter on earth.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com