Classy Mayweather too good for Hatton -- and probably anyone else

If you came out of last night ranking Manny Pacquiao or anyone else as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, you're nuts. And you're hopelessly wrong.

Never has Mayweather lost. Never has he wilted under pressure, not when applied by Jose Luis Castillo, Jesus Chavez, Diego Corrales, Oscar de la Hoya, or, now, Ricky Hatton. And each one of those fighters presented a different challenge.

Hatton gave Mayweather a run early on, winning the fight early with the relentless attack he had promised, keeping Floyd on his back foot to the extreme, and not giving him time to breathe.

I said during the fight that Compubox would never tell the story of Mayweather-Hatton, and I believe that's true. Statistically -- and this is the truth -- Mayweather slaughtered Hatton. It wasn't even close. He landed with trademark pinpoint accuracy, using his vaunted lead right to score points and eventually completely take the fight over. After a nice early showing, it was clear that Ricky Hatton was out of his depth.

But God bless him, the British superstar never, ever stopped pressing. He may have hurt himself with that plan of attack, wearing himself out trying to hit Mayweather, and failing. At last televised count, Mayweather had landed 32% of his punches. Hatton? Just 19%.

Ricky stunned Mayweather a couple of times, once notably so in the first round on a hard counter left hook that sent the "Pretty Boy" stumbling backwards -- if he wasn't the superior athlete that he is, Mayweather would have gone down.

Hatton had Mayweather out of his gameplan in rounds one and two, and for a bit after. Floyd never quite got into the vicious, lightning-quick combination punching that he's used to so embarrass past opponents.

But it went by the wayside. Through five rounds, I had Hatton up three rounds to two. After that, well, Mayweather went "Money."

He popped Hatton repeatedly. He made Hatton miss. He boxed very well on the inside when referee Joe Cortez wasn't over-anxiously pulling the two apart, often before they even had a chance to punch their way out of clinches.

It was in the eighth that Mayweather totally and completely took the fight into his grasp.

I scored that round 10-8 for Floyd, despite no knockdown. Floyd started coming at Ricky, and the "Hitman" wasn't good enough to contain him. He had the heart, as he kept trying to fight back, but Mayweather drilled him again and again, and I thought it was a miracle that Hatton made it out of the round.

The assault continued in the ninth. And, in the tenth, Ricky Hatton went crashing into the canvas. Hard.

Hatton was caught with a crushing left hook, bounced off the turnbuckle, and fell to the mat. Mayweather waited for him, and Ricky, of course, was up and ready to fight on. But he was hurt. Everyone in the arena knew it. The British fans that refused to give up on their man even though he was clearly losing the fight, the HBO commentators, and, most importantly, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. -- they all knew it.

Floyd came at Ricky again. Just as referee Joe Cortez was jumping in to stop the barrage, a dazed, defeated Ricky Hatton crumpled to the mat again. There was no coming back.

No amount of heart from Hatton could have overcome Mayweather anymore. It takes a good fighter to go 10 rounds with a guy as good as Floyd, but it takes a fighter the likes of which we've yet to see to beat Floyd. Hatton gave it everything he had, and it wasn't good enough. Frankly, it wasn't even close.

When Mayweather got locked in on Hatton, he took him to boxing school and gave him a tremendous lesson. With his hooks and body work neutralized, Hatton couldn't begin to challenge the faster, stronger, better Mayweather. As good as Ricky Hatton is, he isn't in Floyd's league.

But, well, who is?

Shane Mosley? I would've picked Sugar Shane to beat Floyd once upon a time. Not anymore. Shane is still a hell of a fighter, but he's lost a step. Mayweather hasn't.

Miguel Cotto? Cotto is a stronger version of Hatton. And while that's a step up, Mayweather outclassed Ricky. Could Cotto get his body attack in any better than Hatton did? I doubt it. As much as I like Cotto, his footwork and head movement is not as good as Hatton's, and Mayweather would pick him apart.

Paul Williams? Now, that's interesting. With the way Williams never stops punching, his awkward, long frame, and his southpaw stance, I would honestly give Williams the best chance of anyone at unseating Floyd atop the 147-pound ranks. But, then, let's consider this: Does Mayweather have the speed and movement skills to get inside and cut that reach advantage off? You bet he does. And he would. Hatton said that Mayweather was better inside than he thought he was, and if it gets in close, I don't like Williams' chances.

Floyd is the best fighter in the world. Nobody has an argument. Nobody has a, "Well, but..." -- nobody. He put in one of the most impressive performances of his storied career last night. It was a rough fight, somewhat dirty on both counts, and not the prettiest battle you'll ever see. But it was great drama, as Hatton and Mayweather fought as though they had a genuine disdain for one another.

Afterward, though, the two fighters were all class. Mayweather completely dropped his villain persona and told the world what he really thinks of Ricky Hatton, a familiar story for Mayweather. He was complimentary after destroying Diego Corrales years ago, and he and Carlos Baldomir became friends. I even think he and Oscar play up a dislike of one another mostly to sell fights -- if you recall, when the final bell sounded in May, Oscar and Floyd embraced with big smiles on their faces.

Floyd called Ricky Hatton a hell of a fighter, and he meant it, saying he's one of the toughest competitors he's ever faced. Immediately following the bout, Mayweather went to center ring and hugged and kissed Hatton. The two of them didn't have sore words for each other. They were two guys who did their best, and one man proved his superiority.

There's not a lot more you can ask for than that.

And, for the record, I felt the fight lived up to its hype. It was a rugged affair, with two guys that came to bring it. It wasn't phenomenal or anything, but the rough fight, the dramatic finish, the surprising start, and the overall atmosphere at the MGM Grand made it something very special. It was a unique night in Vegas.

A Final Note: As much as I enjoyed Mayweather-Hatton, the undercard was horrendous. Cherry-Ferguson was ugly, and I was relieved when Cherry ended it with a sixth round knockout. Wes Ferguson is never going anywhere. Neither is Edner Cherry, quite frankly. The Ponce de Leon win over Escobedo was a snoozer as Escobedo wasn't keen on engaging, and Ponce de Leon didn't look good at all, despite clearly winning the fight. As for Lacy-Manfredo, the less said, the better. Lacy was stiff and mechanical, and he didn't look like he had his power still. Manfredo -- who I gave the fight to by a point, but I didn't find Lacy's win crazy or anything at all -- slapped his way through most of the fight and exhibited his clear lack of top-notch anything. But Lacy is not at all the fighter many once thought he was -- if it hadn't been Calzaghe, it would've been someone else. I scored his win over Tsypko for Tsypko, and I scored Manfredo slightly better than him, too. I just do not at all buy or enjoy Jeff Lacy.

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