Monday, Nov. 24, 2008 | 2 a.m.
After his dominating 11th-round stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday at the MGM Grand, Ricky Hatton said he should fight the winner of the Dec. 6 megabout between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.
Hatton’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., disagreed.
Mayweather would prefer to see Hatton fight the loser.
Of course, that’s presupposing Pacquiao loses to De La Hoya.
Mayweather, you see, has already leapt to that conclusion. He’s banking on a De La Hoya victory.
In fact Mayweather, who used to train De La Hoya, believes the Golden Boy should ride off into the sunset if he fails to beat Pacquiao at the Grand Garden Arena.
“If Oscar doesn’t win, he needs to get out of the game,” Mayweather said. “Retire from the game. Shut it down, close it down and lock it up. Go home, lie down and go to sleep.”
Although a buff Pacquiao now weighs about the same as De La Hoya, as Mayweather sees it he’s still essentially a blown-up junior lightweight facing a much taller opponent with a larger frame.
In the long-standing custom of boxing, where machismo abounds, Mayweather used coarse language in describing Pacquiao before virtually calling out the Filipino star himself.
“He’s just a midget, man, come on,” Mayweather, 56, said. “Pacquiao wouldn’t whip me right now, believe me, the Lord as my witness. And we’re talking about a man who’s 29 years old. I’m more than willing to deliver on that. I’m not just talking about it, I’m willing to do something about it.”
Hyperbole aside, Mayweather considers Hatton-Pacquiao an ideal matchup in part because it could take place at 140 pounds, where Hatton (45-1, 32 knockouts) has never lost. It would pit two of the sport’s most exciting personalities, with both men bringing a crowd-pleasing, aggressive punching style to the ring.
Also, junior welterweight is a better fit for Pacquiao, who steps up to welterweight (147 pounds) to face De La Hoya.
A Hatton-De La Hoya fight would almost certainly have to take place at welterweight, where Hatton sustained his lone career loss, to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.
“I know De La Hoya very well,” Mayweather Sr. said. “I don’t see Pacquiao beating Oscar in no way, form or fashion. I see Hatton having a much better chance against Oscar than Pacquiao would.
“It’s a fight Ricky could win, but it’s not one I really want to see. Oscar is just a much bigger guy and he punches much harder. It’s going to be Ricky’s call on fighting Oscar.”
Hatton gave high marks to Mayweather’s training techniques Saturday night after the two men worked together for the first time in a seven-week camp. Hatton looked sensational in his technical knockout of Malignaggi (25-2), exhibiting more head movement and a more effective jab than he had in his recent fights.
“You saw a technical side to my game that had been missing,” said Hatton, who had given himself substandard grades in his decisions against Juan Lazcano in May and Juan Urango last year.
Even as he acknowledged talented junior welterweights such as Kendall Holt, who fights Ricardo Torres for the WBO title Dec. 13, Hatton said he remains focused on boxing’s “household names” as he looks toward 2009.
“What sort of champion would I be if I turned my back on fighting Oscar or Manny Pacquiao?” Hatton said.
As long as Hatton and his new trainer continue their partnership, expect Mayweather to push for a more spartan conditioning routine.
Hatton has been known to crack jokes about his drinking, about hanging out in the pubs in his native Manchester, England, even about his tendency to put on weight between fights.
He entered the ring against Malignaggi wearing a fat suit, though Mayweather failed to see the humor.
“I spoke to Ricky about that,” Mayweather said. “I told him, ‘Hey, you want to beat these guys, man, guys like Oscar and Floyd Mayweather Jr.? You can forget about whooping those kind of guys if you continue to live that kind of life, drinking and eating bad.’
“ ‘Ricky ‘Fatton’ and all that (garbage), man, you better take that down the street somewhere. It ain’t gonna work in the United States.’ ”
Hatton will be back in Las Vegas next week to watch the year’s biggest fight, albeit with a bit more at stake than the average observer.