Boxing: Hatton and rival pulled apart after hotel scuffle

Ricky Hatton had to be pulled apart from his rival Floyd Mayweather in a post-press conference commotion at the MGM Grand Garden here yesterday ahead of Saturday's showdown with WBC world welterweight champion.

Hatton and Mayweather engaged in a shoving match during the obligatory head-to-head which ended with the "Hit Man" dispensing with his usual cheery persona and aiming a throat-slitting gesture at the champion.

After the pair were pulled apart Hatton revealed: "He leaned on me a little bit I just leaned back on him and he spat his dummy out. He isn't pushing me back.

"There's a time for me to laugh and joke and be my usual sarcastic self but the fight's two days away now and I've done my laughing and joking. When I leaned back on him he said 'don't touch me, don't touch me'. I gave him a little bit of the 'you're dead' gesture then I smiled at him. If he's annoyed at that wait till the bell rings."

Hatton is convinced he has managed to get under the skin of a fighter who clearly revels in his enormous self-confidence and seemed visibly perturbed by his rival's antics.

"I think Floyd depends on that confidence and that's why he did it. I think it'll hurt him more than me. I'll go away and forget about it now but I think he might be seething."

Hatton has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from British fans here ahead of Saturday's fight.

"Absolutely fantastic," said Hatton of the welcome he received from more than 1,000 fans packing the lobby of the hotel and casino. "When you think, there's only some of them here at the minute, so to give the support like they did, I found it amazing."

Up to 10,000 fans are expected to make the trip from the UK to Las Vegas, far in excess of the 4,000 seats allocated to Hatton supporters. Tickets for the fight had sold out within 30 minutes, although Internet re-sale sites were offering ringside seats for almost $13,000.

Several British fans in the hotel lobby said they had no tickets but no intention of paying such inflated prices. They were planning to attend one of the numerous closed-circuit showings along the Las Vegas Strip, but had travelled largely for the atmosphere. That was evident when the throng cheered Hatton's arrival and, half an hour later, booed and jeered the appearance of Mayweather.

Hatton has made a pact with his family to retire from boxing after he turns 30 next year, his mother revealed yesterday.

The undefeated fighter is preparing for the biggest fight of his career. There has been talk of a Wembley bout with Oscar De La Hoya should Hatton upset the odds this weekend.

It has been reported that his trainer Billy Graham is keen for Hatton to retire shortly after turning 30 years of age and his mother, Carol, wants her son to hang up his gloves before he gets "hurt".

"It's the last lap of his career now. He's 30 next year and we all made a pact," she told BBC Radio Five Live. "Two or three more fights. Because, after 30, your reflexes slow down. You've got more chance of getting hurt. He doesn't need the money now.

"How many boxers do you know who come back for the money and unfortunately terrible things happen? You don't get paid overtime not in boxing, do you? So, get your money, get in there, get it done as quick as you can and let's all go home and have a party."

As for Hatton, he said. "Sometimes as a fight gets nearer doubt comes in. It's having the opposite effect on me."

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