The lead-up to the big fight
Kieran Mulvaney and Darius Ortiz take you through the build up of Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas.
Saturday, 8:20 p.m. PT -- Please welcome David Beckham!You have to feel for the guys fighting the co-main at an event like this. There are almost 17,000 people in the crowd right now, and virtually none of them could care that Jeff Lacy and Peter Manfredo are in the ring. Hardly any of them seem to be paying attention. You can tell their minds are elsewhere because they aren't even cheering the ringside girls. They did notice Becks' arrival, though. "One David Beckham, there's only one David Beckham," quoth the crowd. -- Kieran Mulvaney
Saturday, 8:10 PT -- Floyd who?The big fight is set to kick off in about 45 minutes and the Hatton fans still don't know who Floyd Mayweather is. "Who are ya! Who are ya! Who are ya!" In terms of atmosphere, this is No. 2 on my all-time list and No. 1 in terms of boxing. The arena still isn't at full capacity; though. I give it another 10 minutes. News flash! The Hitman's on the big screen and the Brit's are bringing the roof down. I haven't heard a cheer like the one the Hatton fans unleashed in my life, soccer game or otherwise. -- Darius Ortiz
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. PT -- A pondering Ponce De LeonDaniel Ponce de Leon had a few comments after his points win over Eduardo Escobedo. "[Escobedo] is very difficult. Great boxing skills. He connected with some very good shots. I expected him to box that way. I tried to knock him out but I couldn't. I feel very happy for the victory and I want to wait for the next year for the best shots." -- Kieran Mulvaney
Saturday, 7:42 PT -- Jingle Bells?The red-capped "Warriors" are at it again, this time tooting away with "Jingle Bells," of all things. I'll give them this much: It certainly isn't a "Silent Night." -- Darius Ortiz
Saturday, 7:40 p.m. PT -- In terms of atmosphere, this one's in the stratospherePersonally, the loudest fight crowd I have experienced was Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao (any of them). Two guys with fervent and nationalistic supporters. I tell people it was like sticking my head in a jet engine. The arena still isn't quite full, but it already feels as if this one will be louder. Lots of "Hatton Wonderland" choruses ringing through the arena already. -- Kieran Mulvaney
Saturday, 7:35 PT -- Ponce De Leon discovers punchers shouldn't boxDaniel Ponce De Leon reminds me of fifth-grade bully. He winds up on every single shot he throws. When he isn't throwing howitzers he's got his right hand fully extended like some sort of snake charmer. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the 12th and final round!" announces Michael Buffer. The crowd cheers. Not because of the fight, but because they can't wait to see Ricky Hatton. The action's been decent; Escobedo has a sneaky right that he can't seem to miss Ponce De Leon with. He just isn't standing his ground enough. In the end, Ponce De Leon retains his junior featherweight title with the scores of 115-113, 117-111, 118-110. Ponce De Leon had said he wanted to box more in this fight. That's too bad; he's a pure puncher and should have stuck to that. -- Darius Ortiz
Saturday, 7:20 PT -- Cheers or jeers?Daniel Ponce De Leon and Eduardo Escobedo are taking turns whaling away at each other like cavemen but the crowd doesn't seem to notice. They're focused on the big screen or on who's ringside. So who's getting cheers and who's getting jeers? Sugar Ray Leonard: Cheers. Sugar Ray's tinkering with a Blackberry or something. The camera zooms back, and who's sitting a few seats away? Thomas Hearns! Floyd Mayweather: Jeers. Mayweather couldn't care less, though. He smiles, rubs his bottom lip and rocks back and forth. Miguel Cotto: Cheers. Don't know if Cotto gambles but with that poker face he could bluff like Mike Matusow. Ricky Hatton: Cheers, cheers and more cheers. Hatton's shadow boxing in the same attire he wore the day before: Black hat, black t-shirt and black nylon athletic pants. No one seems to care. "Hatton Wonderland" rings through the arena. Moron in the front row with a cell phone in one hand and a piece sign in the other: Jeers. There's one of these guys at every fight. "Hey Mom, I'm on TV!" -- Darius Ortiz
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. PT -- Stick to your day job, Angelo!The telecast has begun, and Wes Ferguson and Edner Cherry are fighting in the ring right now. The arena has yet to truly begin filling up; there are still far more fans at the bar than in their seats. They're still singing, too. It's going to be hard to get "Hatton Wonderland" out of my head. This afternoon, I was talking to Angelo Dundee, legendary trainer of such greats as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and (during his comeback) George Foreman. He had written down the words to that song on a piece of paper, he loves it so much. He pulled the piece of paper out of his pocket, looked at it, and sang the song to me. Angelo's a wonderful guy, but he's a way better trainer than singer. This veteran of so many big fights thinks he knows what will happen at this big fight. "It's the punches you don't see that get you," he said. "And that's why I think Hatton loses tonight." Mayweather, reckons Dundee, will just prove too fast and too good. "But hey," he added. "I've been wrong before." -- Kieran Mulvaney
Saturday, 5:45 PT -- Magic pulls a trickRicky Hatton's little brother, Matthew, has a mug that was meant to be punched. With that protruding brow, those steely eyes and a shaven skull, he reminds me of a hairless pitbull. Not that I've ever seen a hairless pitbull, but you know what I mean. You don't want to look this guy in the eye. "Magic" Matthew scored a unanimous decision over Frankie Santos in the last fight before HBO PPV goes on the air. He looked rough around the edges at times but he got the job done. -- Darius Ortiz
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. PT -- Do you know the way to the buffet?Morning has broken and pockets of Brits have outposted themselves around the MGM Grand; many may have been standing guard all night. Either that or they're just refilling in one of the many "pit stops" that line the way between the lobby and the Garden Buffet. Their renditions of "A Hatton Wonderland," "God Save the Queen" and "Fatty's Gonna Get Ya" fill the casino. Kieran Mulvaney mentioned he's never witnessed an atmosphere like the one we've seen this week. In terms of a sporting event build up, I'd have to agree. We'll see tonight if the Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather fight itself is the most electrifying I've been to. I've seen a few that will be hard to top, most likely because the venues were bigger and the crowd wasn't as one-sided in terms of support, but judging by the weigh-in, this one has potential.
Friday, 4:40 p.m. PT -- Calzaghe has the last wordAfter his unscripted face-off with Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe spoke with a few of us about what happened and how he feels about the prospect of fighting the Executioner. "I've never seen him before, except on TV," he said. "I saw him over there, and I wanted to say hello to the guy, and then he's in my face and saying I don't want to fight." Calzaghe admitted he only wants a couple more fights before retiring, and said that Hopkins is one of the best fighters in the world at the moment.
Friday, 3:35 p.m. PT -- Mayweather's entourageFloyd Mayweather's fellow "Dancing with the Stars" alums Wayne Newton and Helio Castroneves carried Mayweather's belts to the stage during the weigh-in, and will be carrying them into the ring on Saturday. Both admitted afterward that the festivities had been far wilder than they had expected.
Friday, 2:20 p.m. PT -- Welcome to Manchester, Nev.Twenty minutes before Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton were due to weigh-in, the arena was already packed with singing fans, who had been waiting in line for up to five hours for the opportunity to grab a seat. Hatton trainer Billy Graham was introduced to the throng, and judging from the roar, you would have thought he was the main event star.
Friday, 2:15 PT -- Heading to the weigh-inFrom the media room I could hear the chants and feel the stomping of thousands of rabid Ricky Hatton fans. I had an ominous feeling as I closed my laptop and grabbed a can of coke. I half-jogged to the arena and pushed my way through the mobs of people. The ground of the arena was literally shaking as I walked in. I flashed my credential to an usher and proceeded to the area set aside for media. Not one empty seat. God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
In the stands the crowd continued to sing. A trio of guards off to the left wore expressions of bewilderment and amazement. Nothing they teach in security school could have prepared them for this. My heart was in my throat but I proceeded on. Just behind me stood 10 or so rough-and-ready Hatton fans with Man U shirts, singing at the top of their hoarse lungs, intent on turning the Arena into Old Trafford. God save the Queen,
Send her victorious!
Miguel Cotto marched by me with a baby carriage in tow. He got his seat. Finally, I found an aisle just between the last row of media and the first of the masses. I wasn't about to stand in no man's land alone. I climbed into the row behind me and set up shop on the front lines, dead in front of the podium and right alongside thousands of screaming, chanting Brits. Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.
Former champions Genaro "Chicanito" Hernandez and Kevin Kelley entered the area late as well. They posted up in that empty row in front of my own. Soon, other members of the media/credientialed folk filed into the row. I lept over the seat in front of me and shouldered my way into position. Dan Rafael was right. This is going to top all other weigh-ins. -- Darius Ortiz
Friday, 2:00 PT -- A change of pace
Friday, 1:20 p.m. PT -- Why don't you say what you really feel, Hopkins?Joe Calzaghe was just finishing up a radio interview when he spotted Bernard Hopkins and, simultaneously, Hopkins spotted him. Hopkins made a beeline straight for him and the two rivals went face-to-face and nose-to-nose. It was difficult to make out everything above the din, but the back-and-forth went something like this: Bernard Hopkins: Will you take the fight? Joe Calzaghe: Will YOU take the fight? BH: I already said I'll take the fight. JC: OK then, let's fight. When you want to do it? BH: I'm gonna mess up your face. JC: Nobody's messed up my face. Look at my face. Twenty-five years of fighting and not a mark. BH: That's because you're fighting in Europe. You're not fighting a legend. JC: I am a legend. BH: In Europe. JC: There's no way you can beat me. BH: I will never let a white person beat me. JC: If you fight me, you'll lose. BH: I will never lose to a white person. JC: I can't wait man, I can't wait to kick your ass. -- Kieran Mulvaney
Friday, noon PT -- The British have comeThey've come from all over the globe and from all walks of life, some from 5,000 miles away; others, as in Elvis' case, from beyond the grave, for a chance to see the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton weigh-in live. The vast majority of those in line at the entrance of the Arena are Brits who've been waiting since twilight to secure a bird's-eye-view of the proceedings. One member of the media regretted not bringing a rolling bar cart to the MGM. He's sure he wouldn't have been able to go two steps without selling out. ESPN.com's boxing writer Dan Rafael feels this weigh-in has the potential to top all others in terms of atmosphere and crowd fervor. "Off the top of my head, Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya, Jose Luis Castillo-Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas stand out as the most passionate, vibrant weigh-ins," he said. "But this could beat all of them." Ah yes, De La Hoya-Vargas. The whole promotional tour of that fight was a three-ringed circus. I remember, at that weigh-in, a shirtless, insanely muscular Vargas hammed it up to the crowd, striking poses and strutting his stuff as if he were Lou Ferrigno circa 1978. That should have been a dead giveaway that Vargas was on, um, the "breakfast of cheaters." Then again, a certain someone was bunting homeruns into the San Francisco Bay and that didn't raise eyebrows for years. The weigh-in's just over two hours away. Stay tuned. -- Darius Ortiz
Friday, 10:25 a.m. PT -- The Weight-ing gameA bolt of energy has hit the MGM Grand overnight. For the past few days, the atmosphere and enthusiasm has been steadily building, and it seemed as if every other person in Las Vegas had a Manchester accent. But this morning, it's risen to an entirely different level. The weigh-in is in three-and-a-half hours, and already several hundred chanting, cheering Brits are lined up outside the arena. The south end of the Las Vegas Strip has become an outpost of northern England. I've not experienced an atmosphere quite like this at a big fight before. These guys are serious fans and their enthusiasm is contagious. The weigh-in should be quite the spectacle. -- Kieran Mulvaney
Thursday, 3:55 p.m. PT -- Mayweather has entered the building!All week, there have been numerous pieces of evidence suggesting that these days, Floyd Mayweather gets it. He knows the little things are important when it comes to dealing with the media, and not only has he been highly accessible, he's also paying attention to details.
Thursday, 3:45 p.m. PT -- A moment like thisThe biggest fight in Ricky Hatton's career was the June 2005 night when he beat Kostya Tszyu to lift the IBF junior welterweight crown. Until now.
Thursday, 3:12 p.m. PST -- Their first timeRicky Hatton remembers the first time he met Floyd Mayweather. "It was at the Jermain Taylor-Bernard Hopkins fight. And my opinion hasn't changed much to be honest. A lot was made that we had a bit of a scuffle. But it wasn't a scuffle as such. I was sat on the row by HBO. I think Floyd was sat a bit farther down the row, and he came walking past me. I stood up to shake his hand, out of respect. You know, 'Nice to meet you Floyd.' He wouldn't shake my hand. He just went, 'I'll whup your ass,' or some [stuff] like that. So I just said, 'Fair enough,' To be honest, I wasn't overly [bothered] in the first place."
Thursday, 2:00 p.m. PT -- The class actWearing a light-brown leather jacket, stylish designer jeans and a grin from cheek to cheek, Marco Antonio Barrera seemed content in his retirement as he walked into the media room, but still in good enough shape to climb into the ring on a moment's notice if need be. "The Baby-Faced Assassin" was in town to provide moral support for his good friend Ricky Hatton. Barrera and Hatton met in Sheffield in 2002 and "The Hitman" began attending Barrera's big fights soon after. Barrera felt it was only fair to return the favor.
Thursday, 11:25 a.m. PT -- Blasphemy from the pulpitThe drivel most trainers spew at news conferences and media round tables hardly ever changes. I'm still waiting for the day that a trainer steps up to the podium and tells it how it is. "Hells yeah my fighter gets butterflies! He spends 40 minutes in the bathroom before a fight and we have to tie him down to put his gloves on. The whole 'carrying him to the ring like a Roman emperor' entrance? He was tied to that throne and wouldn't have come out of his dressing room otherwise!" Until that day comes, we'll have to endure the generic, PR responses; on how their fighter won't lose, can't lose, doesn't know how to lose. Ricky Hatton's trainer, Billy "The Preacher" Graham, is more of a straight-shooter than most. He's extremely media-friendly and charismatic. Like any trainer, he's eager to play up his fighter's chances but admits his fighter may cut and is sure to face difficult moments against Floyd Mayweather. "I'm expecting a tough, competitive fight," he told us today. "I'd like Ricky to use the jab in this fight. He's got a wicked jab, he's got a lot of pace on it. If he uses it, he's going to [mess] up Mayweather bad!"
Wednesday, 8:16 p.m. PT -- A 'Super' sightingUpon spotting former junior welterweight/welterweight champion Zab Judah in the MGM Grand casino, I was taken back to the first time I saw the Brooklynite fight: it was against Micky Ward, in 1998. Judah controlled the fight with his blistering hand speed and a pulsating jab and, by the middle rounds, was far enough ahead on the scorecards that Ward would have needed a knockout to win.
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. PT -- The Executioner sings Hatton's praisesBernard Hopkins took time following the press conference to talk to reporters about how he sees the fight playing out. Bearing in mind that the president of Golden Boy Promotions East has a vested interest in a Ricky Hatton victory (Hatton is fighting under the Golden Boy banner for this fight, and it's no secret that De La Hoya himself is eyeing a Hatton fight in May), the light heavyweight champion nonetheless had some interesting points to make. "Hatton's a dangerous guy because he's hard to keep him off you," Hopkins said. "I don't think I've seen Floyd fight where he fought a guy who came with rapid punches, that had some sting on them, top to bottom, angles, and an energy level staying what it was in the first through to the eighth, ninth and 10th rounds. Ricky Hatton, I never seen the man get tired. I believe Mayweather's style of catching and baiting -- you catch a man and you bait them in -- that's not going to work, like it did on many other fighters, against Ricky Hatton. Why? Because if you throw that many punches in rapid fire, it's hard to come back with one, two, or three shots. It works great against one- or two- or three-punch guys, because you can time that. But he's nonstop, Hatton. So you got to time five punches compared to one or two. That's going to be the difference in this fight as time goes on." -- Kieran Mulvaney
Wednesday, 3:20 p.m. PT -- Another side to Mayweather
Wednesday, 1:20 p.m. PT -- The staredown
Wednesday, 11:57 a.m. PT -- 'A Hatton Wonderland'Moments before the final news conference, Ricky Hatton's legion of fans took to singing and swearing in announcing their fighter's arrival to the MGM Grand media center.
There's only one, Ricky Hatton
Walking along, singing his song,
Walking in a Hatton Wonderland.
The witty English blokes have one for Mayweather as well, but, well, this is a PG-rated blog. -- Darius Ortiz
Wednesday, 11:50 a.m. PT -- Freddie knows best
Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. PT -- Will any Mayweather do?
Tuesday, 11:57 a.m. PT -- Words of wisdom by 'Money Mayweather'"The Pretty Boy" wants to go by Floyd "Money" Mayweather, and on this day he was making a whole lot of sense. The loquacious welterweight wasn't at a loss for words when he addressed the mostly British media from Garden Arena. Some of the gems he dropped: On why he was so laid back: "I already know how he's going to come out. He's going to come out ready to kill me. Relaxation's a great sensation." On whether his opponent, Ricky Hatton, is fun to watch: "If you call hitting and holding, hitting and wrestling exciting, then I guess he's an exciting fighter." On who's the bigger fighter: "I don't know no other fighter that's done eight-figure gates back-to-back. I don't know other fighters selling out in 30 minutes to two hours. How many fights has he sold out in the U.S.? None." On who has the better fans: "I love U.K. fight fans. You guys are die-hard fans. Even when Hatton gets his a-- beat, you're still going to love him. I wish we had fans like that." On why he reneged on retirement: "I always wanted to fight over in the U.K. and I never did. So if I figured if I can't go to the U.K., I'll bring the U.K. over here. And we'll do it one more time." On what he plans to do after the Hatton fight: "The future holds a long vacation." -- Darius Ortiz
Tuesday, 11:12 a.m. PT -- Who are ya?
Tuesday, 10:59 a.m. PT -- The man of the hour
Darius Ortiz is the boxing editor of ESPN.com.
vs. RICKY HATTON
Saturday, Dec. 8, Las Vegas
• Rafael: Mayweather knew he was a star all along
• Rafael: Lacy is healthy and hungry
• Mulvaney, Ortiz: The lead up to the big fight
• Steinberg: Mayweather's five key fights
• Steinberg: Hatton's five key fights
• Houston: Fighters with both speed and smarts
• Doogan: Hatton still just an ordinary guy
• Rafael: Mayweather-Hatton a "Pretty' big event
• Houston: Great wins by Brits away from home
• Sugar: A history of British-American rivalries
• Doogan: Boxing never looked better in Britain
• The final press conference
• One-on-one with Mayweather: His training
• One-on-one with Mayweather: Childhood
• One-on-one with Mayweather: Early fights
• One-on-one with Mayweather: A boxing family
• One-on-one with Mayweather: Hatton
• Mayweather-Hatton 24/7 Part 2
• Mayweather-Hatton 24/7 Part 1
• Hopkins' thoughts
• Struby: Hatton happy cutting weight