Sport on TV: Classic from smoothie Yank and salt-of-the-earth Manc

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The Independent Online

Ricky Hatton, Britain's greatest-ever boxer in the eyes of many who know about these things, might be even more of a national hero if his fights were on one of the terrestrial stations, but they'd find it difficult to match the commitment shown by Sky. There, sport doesn't have to compete with endless hours of Quiz Play or prime-time repeats of One Foot in the Grave.

A series bought in from HBO, 24/7 (Sky Sports 1, all week) has been tracking Hatton and Floyd Mayweather as they prepare for their collision next Saturday, cutting between the American in Las Vegas and Hatton here. The contrast between smoothie Yank and salt-of-the-earth Manc is wonderful to behold.

Hatton seems to spend most of his time with the several generations of his family that surround him. Instead of an entourage he's got his mum. "How long do I have to wait for this cup of tea, mam?" he enquires. "Get the kettle on!" she screeches. "Hey? Bloody light-welterweight champion of the world! Kettle!" Cut to the garage in Mayweather's mansion, where he's choosing between his Ferrari, McLaren and Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Wednesday's show contained plenty of "Ricky Fatton", as he calls the alter ego who swells between fights. "I know Ricky blowing up is not good for him," his conditioning man Kerry Kayes says. "Course it's not good for him. But it's good for him mentally."

Astonishingly, he sheds around 30lb in the build-up to fights. "It goes without saying that if you go playing darts, you drink 12 pints of Guinness and sausage and peas at the end of it the weight's going to go on," Hatton grins. "Some things never change. When I was young I spent half my time in the pub, and now between fights I spend half my time in the pub." The camera pans to a photo of him drinking with Bernard Manning.

Now, though, thanks to a ferocious training regime, he's rock hard and he does a brilliant lampoon of Mayweather's eccentric glovework. A career as a comic beckons.

Mayweather doesn't seem a bad bloke, but he is a preening fop, and 24/7 induces the fervent hope that Hatton redistributes his pretty-boy features, introduces him to a few Mancunian realities.

Which is what David Beckham used to deal in (don't worry, I've reported myself to Linkwatch for that one). These days he appears to inhabit a parallel universe based not on carbon, like ours, but on fairy dust.

I love the boy dearly, but the interview he gave Inside Sport, (BBC1, Monday) was troubling. Even more disturbing than his belief that he can carry on for England until the 2010 World Cup was his response to Gabby Logan's question about life with LA Galaxy. "We've had success so far," he said. "We've sold out every ground we've played at."

Goals? Trophies? Glory? Bums on seats, mate, bums on seats.

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