Mayweather/Hatton: The Prediction

Despite my confessed doubts about whether the monumental welterweight (147 lbs.) showdown between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Ricky Hatton will live up to its colossal hype, I’m getting that familiar little tingle of excitement and anticipation. There’s no way I’ll ever be as giddy as Hatton’s British fans, who, I expect, come Saturday night will be cheering on their national hero with a fervor that will make it seem like they’re rabid, on PCP and in a Pentecostal church all at once. But if it’s not a good fight — and chances are roughly even that it will be — at least it’s got plenty of drama, a tremendous contrast in styles and a good undercard, plus it’s that once-common-then-rare-now-increasingly-common-again thing: A Boxing Event.
A quick snapshot, in case you haven’t been following along for some reason and prefer not to visit my longer twopart “keys to the fight”:
Floyd Mayweather is boxing’s premier fighter. He may also be its premier jackass. Nobody on the planet has his combination of physical gifts and intelligence in the ring, and outside of the rap world, nobody is as insufferable when it comes to bragging about his stacks of money. At his best, Mayweather is so good and watchable that he draws gasps from the crowd. At his worst, he does the bare minimum he needs to win, which he has done mostly with ease throughout his career. But at his best or not, jackass or no, he’s boxing’s version of Terrell Owens — a sublimely gifted athlete you can’t stop watching no matter what he does.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: If Floyd Mayweather is a concert pianist, then Ricky Hatton is a rock and roll drummer. He’s one of the top 10 fighters in the world, all agree. He’s the owner of one of Great Britain’s most celebrated boxing wins, over Kostya Tszyu in 2005, when Hatton was everyone’s pick for fighter of the year. And unlike Mayweather, he’s about as likable a chap as you’ll find in the sport. There’s no boxer I’d rather have a beer with. At his best in the ring, he is kinetic energy incarnate. At his worst, he’s a mauling, fouling, wrestling machine.
Truth is, many people who follow boxing closely think Hatton’s a sitting duck. I disagree with them. Guys with skill who never stop punching and put constant pressure on Mayweather are the ones who’ve had the best luck against him. By contrast, guys with negligible skill who never stop punching and put constant pressure on Mayweather get embarrassed. My wager’s on Hatton, a fighter in the pressuring style, having the skill to trouble Mayweather.
Best-case scenario: Hatton forces Mayweather to fight up close, where Mayweather’s quite good when he decides to take risks, and we get all kinds of action. Worst-case scenario: Mayweather’s way too slick for Hatton and decides to hunt-and-peck him to death.
MY PREDICTION: Mayweather, by close but conclusive decision. I think it will be very similar to his fight with Oscar De La Hoya — Hatton will have some success bulling Mayweather into the ropes, but Mayweather will do enough to win anyway. I expect it to be moderately entertaining, but well short of a rollercoaster ride of spills and chills.
CONFIDENCE: 80%. Hatton’s own convictions are impressive. His skills are underrated. He has the style that could bother Mayweather. But his skill level is not superior to Mayweather’s. Mayweather has proven he can beat fighters with styles similar to Hatton’s. All the conviction in the world can’t change any of that.
MY ALLEGIANCE: Hatton, in quite a betrayal. Mayweather is probably the fighter who most dragged me into boxing fandom. I’d been a moderate fan for most of this century, but the version of Mayweather I saw in 2004 and 2005, when he was trying to capture fans’ imagination with a crowd-pleasing offensive style, was the one that captured mine, and that version of him has all but disappeared. When someone is that awe-inspiring to behold, it’s easier to ignore their ugly personalities. Mayweather hasn’t inspired much awe in me of late. When that ugly personality is contrasted with Hatton’s charming one, it makes rooting for Hatton all the easier. As an American, I want to cheer on Mayweather; but as an American, I also want to cheer on the underdog. I’ll be in Hatton’s corner Saturday night, even though a win would be one of the all-time biggest wins for a British fighter, ever.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.