Boxing: De La Hoya throws hat into Hatton's corner

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The Independent Online

The Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather roadshow rolled into London and Manchester last week. When the curtain goes up on their world welterweight title fight on 8 December, the Hitman and Pretty Boy will be as familiar a double act as Ant and Dec. And considerably funnier.

The boom-boom routine of their verbal sparring will boost pay-per-view sales – the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is already sold out – which certainly will not be harmed by a shock prediction from the promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, that Hatton will win.

The 34-year-old De La Hoya, whose "Golden Boy" features remain unblemished after 43 fights, the last a split-decision loss to Mayweather, is even suggesting that he and a victorious Hatton will get together in the ring at Wembley Stadium next spring. He says: "Put me against a wall and ask me who I think will win, I'll pick Ricky Hatton.

"I can see Floyd being over-confident. Ricky is younger and hungrier and he wants to prove to the whole world that he is a real fighter and can beat the best. I don't see it difficult at all for Ricky to win. I've been in there with Floyd and I know that his punching power is limited. I was actually leaving my head for him to hit me and honestly I didn't really feel anything.

"That will be a real advantage for Ricky, he'll have no respect for Mayweather's punches. I'm crossing my fingers that ifRicky wins, a fight between us would be a great possibility for Wembley next year."

Mayweather's ego makes Jose Mourinho seem humble. To De La Hoya's prediction he snapped: "Oscar can shove his opinion up his ass. I could whup Hatton and De La Hoya on the same night. I've whupped Oscar's ass once and if he keeps on like that, I'll have to do it again before we get back to the States. Beating Hatton will be like taking candy from a baby. He's fought a bunch of bums who are over the hill."

Mayweather calls himself "the cash cow of boxing" and he looks a million dollars – nearer two, given the diamond-encrusted pendant, watch, bracelet and ring he flaunts. Pulling up hisT-shirt to reveal a drum-tight torso, he said: "I'm always in shape. I'm 147lb now [the welterweight limit]. Look at Vicky Fatton over there. How much does he weigh?" Hatton may be a little puffy but he is as sharp as a tack, counter-punching smartly when Mayweather dismissed him as one-dimensional."He's the one who's one-dimensional. I go straight forward and he goes straight back."

But the punchline comes from De La Hoya: "If Ricky wins this fight," he says, "they should make him Sir Hatton." Or at least give him an Oscar.