Cuts, not Mayweather the worry for Hatton

SUCH is the growing belief in the Ricky Hatton camp that it is not Floyd Mayweather that concerns them most about tonight’s greatly anticipated welterweight showdown, but their man’s susceptibility to cuts.

Mick Williamson was a late arrival in Las Vegas this week but his skills as Hatton’s cuts man could make him the most important member of the 29-year-old Mancunian’s corner at the MGM Garden Arena.

With Golden Boy Promotions billing this WBC title fight ‘Undefeated’ there is much to savour.

The protagonists have 81 victories between them with no losses, 43 wins to Hatton, 38 to Mayweather and the clash of styles between Mayweather, considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today, and Hatton, one of the most exciting, makes it one of the most eagerly awaited fights in years.

Yet Hatton’s trainer Billy Graham admitted that the spectre of blood pouring from above his boxer’s eyes is something that has kept him awake at night in the nerve-wracking countdown to the bout.

Mayweather alluded to that vulnerability on Wednesday as he spoke to journalists following the final pre-fight press conference.

“I’ll never overlook an opponent and I know this kid is going to come out and fight his heart out but he makes a lot of mistakes,” Mayweather said.

“He must realise with a fighter like Floyd Mayweather you can’t come straight at me without a jab, especially when you’ve had plastic surgery, with your face out there and throwing a hook this wide,’’ he said as he threw his right arm out to its full extension.

“Against a sharp-shooter? A counter-puncher? A smart guy? If you dare go there a sharp upper cut is going to come. If you throw the left hook, a sharp hook is going to come.’’

Unsurprisingly Graham disagrees with Mayweather. “I actually think cuts are the only way Floyd can beat him, unless he gets foolish and walks onto a big shot,” Graham said. “That truly is the only way I believe Mayweather is going to win this fight.”

Verbally, Mayweather has been all over Hatton since their match was made, fuelling the usually mild-mannered Hatton to reveal a genuine dislike for his rival, albeit disguised by a disarming wit. The Mancunian made sure Mayweather knew he was not a bit concerned by his barbs, turning his pre-fight address into something akin to a best man’s speech at a boozy wedding.

“I was shocked to hear how close the odds were,” Hatton said, “because listening to Floyd all these weeks he’s going to be fighting this little, fat, beer-drinking Englishman who has fought no-one, been over-protected, fought a load of has-beens.

“Personally, I think you’ve got nothing to worry about Floyd. I think you’ll be all right.”

Despite Mayweather’s behaviour outside the ring, Hatton is happy to speak of his appreciation of the American’s boxing skills although he feels he brings something to the fight no previous Mayweather opponent has managed.

“He’s crept over the finishing line, mainly when he’s been put under pressure. He says he’s coped with it but he’s not coped with it that well. With Oscar he just squeezed over the finish line and although Oscar is bigger, I don’t think he’s as quick.

“I’m quicker, stronger faster, better footwork, better boxer, bigger puncher, bigger body puncher than (Jose Luis) Castillo was when he fought him.

“I think he knows he’s getting in there with as fighter in his prime and of his last five opponents, I think there’s only been one under 30. I’m not knocking him, they were still great wins, all of them. But he’s just not going to intimidate me. That’s my game, I’m fearless, it’s my strongest attribute.”

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