I am not British. I am not a huge fan of Ricky Hatton, though I do count myself as a fan of his. I am not a Floyd Mayweather hater -- in fact, I've grown over the years to quite like Floyd. I find him funny.
That all said, when I watched Mayweather rock Hatton to the deck with that left hook last Saturday night, I had never before felt the way I did. While watching a dazed Hatton attempt and fail to regain his composure and weather the storm, going down in a befuddled, beaten heap again moments later, I was genuinely rooting for him -- and for it to be over.
Floyd had it all over Hatton. As the "Hitman" tried to muscle Mayweather, the wise pound-for-pound king went to one of his own trademarks: Forearms. Lots of 'em. Some may complain about it, but the truth is, Hatton initiated and necessitated that defense from Mayweather. Ricky Hatton didn't get inside on Floyd as much as he bulled his way in too close and didn't even give himself room to punch. In order to not get worn out, Mayweather went to the forearms, muscling the muscler, bulling the bully fighter.
When you add in the fact that Mayweather is better than Hatton in basically every single aspect of the game, it was bound to add up to trouble.
But despite that, and for as much as I think Mayweather proved his superiority beyond any shadow of a doubt, I came out of that fight a bigger fan of Ricky Hatton's than I came in. He is a unique personality in the sport, carries a blue collar aura, and brings with him -- via his tremendous fanbase -- the best atmosphere in the sport.
I can't wait until Hatton fights again, be it against Paulie Malignaggi, Junior Witter, Oscar de la Hoya, or anyone else.
I want dearly for Hatton to rebound from the crushing defeat at the top of his game, back at 140 as the rightful true champion of the division. At 43-1, Hatton has nothing to be ashamed of. It took the best fighter in boxing to take his "0" away from him.
Part of what drew me in so much for Hatton on Saturday was the crowd. But a more subtle thing was the way Hatton carried himself. He gave the impression that he really did think he was going to win the fight, which is more than can be said for a lot of guys that fight Mayweather. Up until the very end -- with Mayweather firmly in control and, in fact, dominating thoroughly at that point -- Hatton kept trying to fight. It was reminiscent, in some ways, of Diego Corrales against Mayweather. He may have gotten waxed, but he did so with great passion.
For those that think Hatton was winning the fight (and believe it or not, there are some fans that thought this), the numbers do not lie. Mayweather vastly outlanded Hatton, did so with much better accuracy, and, well, he knocked him out. Ricky Hatton and his team have not taken any public issue with the judges' cards at the time of stoppage -- personally, I had it slightly closer, as I gave Hatton three rounds (1st, 2nd, 5th). I also gave Mayweather a 10-8 round in the eighth, though.
But the result aside, and having had days to soak it all in, and having rewatched the fight a couple of times, let me say this: I will never forget the experience that was Mayweather-Hatton. The magnitude of the event was off the charts, bigger, in my mind, than Mayweather-de la Hoya, although I don't think it will come close to dethroning that one as the biggest PPV draw ever.
Mayweather-Hatton came off as more of a fight than it did the staging of an event. This was a boxing match, with diehard fans of both men, and the visitor's section vastly outnumbering the hometown boy's. They fought hard, they got a little dirty, and the drama was there. Hatton had Floyd a little uncomfortable, but like a true champion, Mayweather adjusted and took over.
It ended with a great climax, perhaps at just the right moment. Hatton had reached the point of no return. He wasn't going to knock Mayweather out, because he couldn't hit him. He wasn't going to win on the cards, because he couldn't hit him or stop himself from getting hit.
He lost. He failed.
But Ricky Hatton did so in a manner that proved that he, too, is a true champion. So raise a pint to the "Hitman," and toast to great defeat. He'll fight another day.