RICKY Hatton, here’s some encouragement for you. Floyd Mayweather is not invincible. Indeed, only a couple of months ago, he lost to Mel B from the Spice Girls.
I should point out of course, that this was not in a boxing match. (Although I’m sure Mel B can look after herself.) No, this was in an eliminator for ‘Dancing With The Stars’, the US TV version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
Why, you might ask, was Mayweather messing about on a ballroom dancing show with the likes of Marie Osmond, Jane Seymour and some not-very-famous racing driver just two months before the so-called Fight Of The Century? (And while I’m at it: What on earth were the Spice Girls thinking of in reforming?)
Mayweather actually combined his training for the Hatton fight with his TV dancing commitments until he was KO’d by a Spice Girl in October. With all the mystery that has surrounded his training programme, it’s no surprise that questions have been raised as to just how well prepared he is for Saturday night’s showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The ‘Dancing With The Stars’ experience was just about the only thing not to come up during the pre-fight press conference on Wednesday night, the one with the chest bumping and the two-minute stare out. But the level of trash talking got to such a level that it was hard to argue with Hatton’s assertion that Mayweather was indulging in mind games.
Why, then, has Hatton allowed himself to get drawn in? It wasn’t like this when he fought Kostya Tszyu at the M.E.N. Arena in 2005. Yes, the fight was brutal, but the pre-match talk between the two boxers was filled with genuine mutual respect.
I can understand why Hatton is getting a little sick of Mayweather’s flamboyance, his self-regard, his constant put-downs. But that’s all a part of the Mayweather package; he does his talking outside the ring as well as in it.
That is completely at odds with Hatton’s down-to-earth, self-deprecating style. I can’t imagine him whizzing round a dancefloor under the nose of Bruce Forsyth, hoping for Len Goodman’s approval. Hatton is a star because he’s so unaffected by his fame. Hatton v Mayweather is a clash of personalities as well as a clash of great fighters, and it’s one that is producing fireworks a couple of days early.
Much as I hope his anger was just for show, it looked as though Hatton was genuinely wound up by the end of the press conference. Not a problem if it raises his game by a notch or two to help him to a victory which would better the Tszyu triumph. But he’ll be in trouble if he lets Mayweather’s needling affect his gameplan.
Maybe Hatton needs to lift himself by picturing Mayweather being knocked out by Mel B. Apart from giving the Hyde Hitman something to smile about, it will also raise two questions: This may be the biggest fight of Hatton’s career, but is it the biggest of Mayweather’s? And if it is, then is Floyd taking it seriously enough to win it?
Answers to both in the small hours of Sunday morning, UK time.