Friday, Nov. 21, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Hatton Fans in Las Vegas
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The bout might be between a Brit and an American Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but there’s little doubt who the raucous crowd will stand behind inside the Strip casino come Saturday night.
Not so fast with those American flags Paulie Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton has returned to Las Vegas and brought with him another strong contingent of British boxing fans to go along with the American supporters he won over last December.
“I think all the fans that have bought tickets that have come over from Britain and the fans from the United States have given us fantastic support,” said Hatton, who sports a 44-1 career mark, with his lone loss coming at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr., last winter.
“I always get treated well by the American people, the American fight fans, especially in Las Vegas and it’s a pleasure to come back.”
The Hatton camp knows that the infusion of Brits who came over for the Hatton-Mayweather fight will not be topped, but it is are hopeful somewhere around 8,000 members of the “Hitman’s” army will attend the 12-round title fight.
Of course, the boisterous Brits bring with them their cheery songs and ringing soccer cheers, which includes a popular verse based off “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” that goes:
There's only one Ricky Hatton,
One Ricky Hatton,
Singing this song,
Walking in a Hatton wonderland.
“British fans are generally known for that, but Ricky Hatton fans can be a little on the noisy side,” said a smiling Hatton, about his enormous support.
“It makes you feel very proud. I think the fans look at me as more a friend, rather than a British sportsman. Both British and American fans have really supported me well, and I want to make them proud.”
That’s why after his loss to Mayweather Jr., and lackluster showing against Juan Lazcano in front of some 50,000 of his countrymen in Manchester, England, Hatton new a change was needed.
He switched trainers from Billy Graham, the only teacher he’d ever had, to Floyd Mayweather Sr., the father of the only fighter to ever beat him.
“I’m not going to change my style, I’ve worked too long,” Hatton said. “I think that Floyd’s polished me up in certain areas, though.
“Many fights I’ve shown my boxing ability and sometimes I’ve show that I’ve got the boxing ability, but don’t always show it. I’m working with a trainer now that’s slowing me down and letting me work on different things and this Saturday night, I’m going to show it.”
Hatton’s brother, Matthew, said he’s seen the new-found determination on his brother’s face.
“It’s been a different training camp. I’ve seen a big improvement in him,” said Matthew, who shared the long runs up Mount Charleston with his brother during their long training camp in Las Vegas.
“He’s really up for this fight. I’m expecting good things from him.”