Hitman sets target on taking out Mayweather

RICKY HATTON is relishing the opportunity to prove himself the best fighter on the planet after contracts were signed yesterday for his December super-fight against Floyd Mayweather.

Hatton is set to earn a career-best purse of up to £8 million (€11.8 million) for the contest, which will be promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. It is expected to take place in Las Vegas on December 8.

The unbeaten Manchester “Hitman” said it was his lifetime dream to climb to the top of the pound for pound rankings, a position currently held by the five-weight world champion Mayweather.

Hatton (43-0, 31KOs) said: “To win the world title is one thing but to be known as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet in any weight division would be something else.

“I am fighting a five-weight world champion and the best fighter in the world. He’s just come off a win over another modern day legend in De La Hoya. It can’t get any bigger than that,” he said.

Mayweather (38-0, 24KOs) has been needled out of retirement to take the fight. The brash Grand Rapids man said he would walk away from the sport after his win over De La Hoya. However Hatton’s magnificent win over Jose Luis Castillo in June clearly caught the attention of the self-styled “Pretty Boy” — as did Hatton’s subsequent comments about what he perceives to be Mayweather’s negative style.

“Before my last performance against Castillo I’m sure a lot of people thought I’d lost my chance at fighting him but with the performance I put in last time he could see what a big fight it is,” Hatton added.

Hatton will move up to 147lbs for only the second time in his career to face Mayweather in a fight expected to be broadcast on HBO pay-per-view in the US and spark a British bidding war between Sky, ITV and Setanta.

Despite struggling when he stepped up in weight to outpoint Luis Castillo in Boston early last year, Hatton believes he will be much better prepared to carry the extra poundage against Mayweather.

He added: “I ended up getting in the ring too heavy on the night and it slowed me down. But you learn by your mistakes and I’ll be better prepared next time. I’ll be better, stronger and faster.”

Hatton will go into the ring as a big underdog against Mayweather. But the last time he entered the ring as an unfancied fighter, he shocked Kostya Tszyu to claim the IBF light-welterweight title belt two years ago.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas is favourite to host the contest. Hatton could expect a travelling support in excess of the 10,000 who saw him beat Jose Luis Castillo in the city in June.

Mayweather has already begun his trademark trash-talking about Hatton. He said: “I don’t know who is the pound-for-pound number two in the world, but there is no fighter in the world like me.

“Hatton is in for a rude awakening and he is in for a shock if he thinks I’m like any fighter he’s ever faced. I’m in the business of blood, sweat and tears.”

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