Mayweather fight is a dream come true, says Hatton

Aug 1, 2007 - 6:09 PM By Mark Staniforth PA SportsTicker Boxing Writer

MANCHESTER, England (Ticker) - Ricky Hatton is relishing the opportunity to prove himself the best fighter on the planet after contracts were signed on Wednesday for his December super-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Hatton is set to earn a career-best purse of up to $16 million for the bout, which will be promoted by Oscar de la Hoya's "Golden Boy Promotions". It is expected to take place in Las Vegas on December 8.

The unbeaten British 'Hitman' said it was his lifetime dream to climb to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, a position currently held by the five-weight world champion Mayweather.

Hatton (43-0) said: "To win the world title is one thing, but to be known as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet in any weight division would be something else and I just can't wait.

"I am fighting a five-weight world champion and the best fighter in the world. He's just come off a win over another modern-day legend in de la Hoya. It can't get any bigger than that," he told Sky Sports News.

Mayweather (38-0) has been needled out of retirement to take the fight. The brash Grand Rapids man said he would walk away from the sport after his win over de la Hoya.

However Hatton's magnificent win over Jose Luis Castillo in June clearly caught the attention of the self-styled 'Pretty Boy' - as did Hatton's subsequent comments about what he perceives to be Mayweather's negative style.

"Before my last performance against Castillo, I'm sure a lot of people thought I'd lost my chance at fighting him, but with the performance I put in last time he could see what a big fight it is," Hatton added.

Hatton will move up to 147 pounds for only the second time in his career to face Mayweather in a fight which is expected to be broadcast on HBO pay-per-view in the United States and spark a UK bidding war.

Despite struggling when he stepped up in weight to outpoint Luis Castillo in Boston early last year, Hatton believes he will be much better prepared to carry the extra poundage against Mayweather.

He added: "I ended up getting in the ring too heavy on the night and it slowed me down. But you learn by your mistakes and I'll be better prepared next time. I'll be better, stronger and faster."

Hatton will go into the ring as a big underdog against Mayweather. But the last time he entered the ring as an unfancied fighter, he shocked Kostya Tszyu to claim the IBF light-welterweight title belt two years ago.

"Mayweather's like greased lightning. He's very hard to nail and he's got a great defence and looks after himself well," Hatton said. "I have a lot of admiration for his talent and he really is a fighter to admire.

"But his workrate isn't that great. He spends long periods of time on the ropes covering up and that is the last thing you want to do against me. The two fights he came closest to losing were his first fight against Castillo and his last fight against de la Hoya when they put a bit of pressure on. I'd like to think I'm 'Mr Pressure' so anybody who says this fight is beyond me don't know what they're looking at. This is a fight where I am the underdog but I am still very, very capable of winning."

Earlier, Hatton's father Ray confirmed to PA SportsTicker that contracts had been signed by both sides.

Hatton senior said: "The contract provided what we wanted and we are officially signed up. Now we are just waiting for the date and venue to be made official.

"Our lawyers have instructed us that the Mayweather camp have also signed at their end. We are delighted with the deal. Ricky's purse is higher than anything he has previous earned."

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas is favorite to host the contest.

Mayweather has already begun his trademark trash-talking about Hatton.

He said: "I don't know who is the pound-for-pound No. 2 in the world, but there is no fighter in the world like me.

"Hatton is in for a rude awakening when we meet and he is in for a shock if he thinks I'm like any fighter he has ever faced. I'm in the business of blood, sweat and tears."

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