By Sammy Rozenberg
After years of trash talking, months of hype and thousands of British fans invading the city of Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25KOS) closed the show like a champion, knocking out Ricky Hatton (43-1, 31KOs) in the tenth round to retain his WBC welterweight title.
It wasn't easy - Hatton made him work.
The MGM Grand was decorated a loud seas of Hatton chants, energizing the Manchester fighter to take the fight to Mayweather in the early rounds. Mayweather was uncomfortable and had trouble with Hatton's speed and inside fighting. The fight was on the table going into the eight round, and that's when Mayweather was able to figure Hatton out and began to unload with punches to the head and body, buckling Hatton's legs during the onslaught.
In the tenth, Mayweather caught Hatton coming in with a left hook and sent him down on his face. The fight appeared to be over, yet Hatton got to his feet at the count of eight. Mayweather immediately connected with two more left hands to cause a delayed reaction as Hatton went down for the second time. At that moment, Joe Cortez called a halt to the action.
Mayweather was able to land 129 of 329 punches, while Hatton got off with 63 of 372 punches.
Miguel Cotto, the WBA champion, has to be considered the biggest threat to Mayweather at 147-pounds. In 2007, Cotto's wins over Zan Judah and Shane Mosley have established him as not only a superstar in the sport, but a pound-for-pound elite fighter. He can sell out New York's Madison Square Garden, he's not yet shown the same sellout ability in cities like Las Vegas. Since 2006, he's become as solid, hard punching welterweight. He appears to be returning to the ring in March, with a possible date with Antonio Margarito in the summer.
Neither Cotto or his promoter Bob Arum are holding their breath for a Mayweather fight in the near future.
WBO champion Paul Williams is without a dance partner for his return to the ring on February 2. Carlos Quintana is said to be the frontrunner to land the fight. Nobody at welterweight is running to fight Williams, his awkward physical dimensions are tough to overcome. Towering at a near 6'3 and possessing an 82-inch reach, nobody can blame fighters for running to take another direction. Let's not forget that Williams usually throws over 100-punches per round and does have a solid chin.
Mayweather, follwong his win, would not commit to fighting again. He said he would focus on his promotional company, Mayweather Promotions. He said he would take a two-year layoff from the sport, but he claimed retirement after fighting Oscar De La Hoya in May, and returned almost a month later.
"I don't know if I'll fight again. I'm not going to let boxing retire me, I'll retire from boxing. I accomplished all that I could as a fighter. Now it's time to be a promoter," Mayweather said.
On the undercard;
In a battle of super middleweights, Jeff Lacy (23-1, 17KOs) won a ten-round unanimous decision over Peter Manfredo Jr. (28-5, 13KOs) in the chief-support.
Manfredo used his quicker hands and feet to outhustle Lacy in the first three rounds. Lacy came alive in the fourth, landing a right hand to send Manfredo down. Manfredo beat the count and rather than survive, he decided to use to his quick hands to trade punches with Lacy, surviving the round. The right hand must have bewildered Manfredo, who went into a shell for the rest of the fight.
A clash of heads opened up a cut above the right eye of Lacy in the ninth round. It mattered not, Lacy fought ugly, but enough to pull out a decision. The scores were 95-94, 96-93 and 97-92. This was Lacy's first bout in over a year, due to a injured shoulder that required surgery.
Lacy has a fight in the wings with light heavyweight Antonio Tarver, tentative for April 12 in Florida.
WBO super bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (34-1, 30KOs) retained his title with a unanimous twelve-round decision over Eduardo Escobedo (20-3, 14KOs).
Ponce De Leon started slow, being hit with a lot of counters, which caused some concern in his corner. Around the third round, Ponce De Leon began to let his hands go, throwing power punches from odd angles. Ponce De Leon's sheer volume of punches won him the fight. Escobedo was able to land a hard counter here and there, but not hard enough to crack the tough chin of the champion.
The scores were 115-113, 117-111 and 118-110
Edner Cherry (23-5-1, 11KOs) knocked Wes Ferguson (17-3-1, 5KOs) out in the sixth round. The fight was a close boxing match for the first five rounds, with Ferguson seeming to have the edge with a sharp jab.
In the sixth round, Cherry knocked Ferguson down with a left hook. Ferguson got to his feet and Cherry would begin to throw power shots to the head and body. Another left hook sent Ferguson down on his back and the ref stopped the action immediately.
This was a rematch of a June bout, where Cherry won a close unanimous decision over Ferguson.
Matthew Hatton (33-3-1, 13KOs), the younger brother of Ricky, won an easy eight-round unanimous decision over Frankie Santos (15-6-3, 7KOs).
Middleweight Danny Jacobs (1-0, 1KO) made his pro debut on the undercard to Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He stopped Jose Hurtado (1-1-1, 1KOs) in less than 30-seconds to rack up his first pro win. Jacobs, one of the best amateurs to come out of New York, is close to signing a deal with a major promoter and has manager to the stars, Al Haymon by his side.
In other action, junior welterweight prospect Danny Garcia (2-0, 2KOs) stopped Jesus Villareal (1-3-1, 0KOs) in the second round. Garcia, another bright amateur, made his pro debut on the undercard to Joan Guzman-Humberto Soto in Atlantic City.
Undercard results by Mark Vester