Unbeaten Mayweather knocks out Hatton, retains title

Updated: December 9, 2007, 3:01 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- The overwhelmingly British crowd was deafening as it cheered, chanted and sang for Ricky Hatton throughout the fight, but it couldn't fight for him.

He could have used the help.

Floyd Mayweather, faster, more skilled and far more accurate with his punches, dominated Hatton and knocked him out in the 10th round to retain the welterweight championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

Most of the fans in the wild sold-out crowd of 16,459 had come all the way from England to support their hero. They sang throughout the fight, even singing for Hatton as he lay dazed on the canvas after being knocked down for the second time.

Mayweather put an exclamation point on his pound-for-pound No. 1 status with a clinical destruction of the reigning junior welterweight champion, who moved up for the opportunity to face the "Pretty Boy" in one of the most anticipated fights in years.

"I took my time. I fought inside and outside," Mayweather said. "A true champion can adapt to anything. I already knew coming in it was going to be a rough night and that it was going to be tougher than most of my fights. I didn't prepare halfway. I had a great training camp."

Mayweather, who is 30, hinted that it might have been his last training camp and talked about retiring, the same way he did after winning the title from Carlos Baldomir in November 2006.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather Jr. and  Ricky Hatton
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Floyd Mayweather, right, made good on his promise to knock out Ricky Hatton.
When asked about facing titleholder Miguel Cotto next, Mayweather said, "He's a hell of a champion, and there are great guys at 154 [pounds], but I have done everything I can do in the sport of boxing and I am not going to fight anybody. I accomplished a goal tonight because one of my dreams was to fight in the U.K., but I couldn't. So I had the best of the U.K. come to me."

Hatton (43-1, 31 KOs) was never really in the fight even though he tried to rough Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) up by bulling him into the ropes, wrestling with him and making it a physical fight.

Hatton took the loss with good humor.

"What a fluke that was," he said. "He is very good at making you miss. He was better inside than I thought. He caught me. It was working, but I didn't quite stick to the game plan. I was a little gung ho. He wasn't the biggest welterweight I've seen, but I felt the difference. I knew what the tactics were. I wasn't quite good enough to apply it tonight."

Mayweather was clearly in control before rocking Hatton in the 10th round. He knocked him down with a left hook, and Hatton was badly hurt. He didn't look as though he knew where he was when he got up, but referee Joe Cortez let the fight continue.

Mayweather wasted no time jumping on him again, landing a flurry of punches, including another left hook that sent Hatton staggering backward and down again. Cortez called off the fight at 1:35 without a count at the same time the white towel was thrown from Hatton's corner.

"He was definitely the toughest competitor I ever faced," Mayweather said. "I was throwing body shots, and he kept coming. I see now why they call him the 'Hitman.' But then I threw the check hook. They teach us that in northern Michigan in the amateurs, and he walked right into the shot. He never saw it coming."

Said Hatton, "He's very clever. He picked up a couple of shots, and that was that. I was forcing it, and I was doing well. I should have been a touch more careful. He knocked me out, but he wasn't the hardest puncher I've ever fought. He's very accurate. Knock me down, I keep getting up. Ricky Hatton is still going to fight."

The entire week of the fight, the Brits had poured into Las Vegas hoping Hatton could replicate other massive British upsets against American fighters, such as Randy Turpin's shocker against Sugar Ray Robinson to win the middleweight title in 1951 and Lloyd Honeyghan's shocking knockout of Donald Curry to win the undisputed welterweight title in 1987.

It wasn't to be.

It took a few rounds for Mayweather, who was fighting in his adopted hometown, to look comfortable against relentless Hatton, but when he finally did, he started to let his hands go and was able to catch Hatton with combinations.

He cut Hatton, 29, over the right eye in the third round, and in the fourth, Mayweather started to land clean, crisp shots. He stunned Hatton with a three-punch combination.

In the sixth, Hatton lost a point when he shoved Mayweather into the ropes and hit him behind the head.

Mayweather shook the blow off, then continued to pick Hatton apart. He staggered Hatton in the eighth with a straight right hand that snapped his head back as the Americans in the crowd burst into a chant of "USA! USA! USA!"

Mayweather continued the assault and was battering Hatton with combinations and body shots, which was supposed to be Hatton's forte.

By the ninth round, Mayweather's stiff left jab was snapping Hatton's head back and it looked as though it was only a matter of time until the end.

Mayweather said he wanted the knockout. His power has been questioned, and he has battled hand injuries.

"I wanted to show the fans I can punch with power," he said. "I feel like in one of my last fights, I gave the fans a dud. So I wanted to come back and give the fans a great fight."

HBO will replay the bout Dec. 15 (10:15 p.m. ET/PT).

The victory was a culmination of a huge year for Mayweather. He earned more than $20 million to go with the nearly $30 million he earned May 5 when he outpointed Oscar De La Hoya in the richest fight in boxing history. In between the fights, Mayweather emerged as a mainstream star with his performance on the ABC reality series "Dancing With the Stars." Dancing competitors Helio Castroneves, Mark Cuban and Wayne Newton walked him into the ring.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.

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