The Brit can hit

MURRAY GREIG -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:32 PM ET

On the surface, it looks like The Gangsta vs. The Florist.

Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, undefeated world welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather will square off with undefeated world junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton of Britain for the WBC and Ring Magazine titles.

Whereas everything the trash-talking Mayweather does inside and outside the ring is calculated in terms of flash and shock value -- Hatton calls it his "bling" -- the Brit is the ultimate working man's fighter.

Hatton lists his favourite food as bangers and mash and he loves to frequent the pubs in his native Manchester, where his dad, Ray, once played soccer for Man City.

No entourage, no bling. Hatton is as pasty and predictable as porridge -- but he just might be the best pure puncher on the planet.

Mayweather (38-0, 24 KOs) has always been a beautiful boxer, and as he's climbed in weight, that's become even more obvious. Rather than trading punches toe-to-toe, he prefers to utilize his defensive wizardry to its fullest by frustrating opponents into missing punches that leave them wide open to short, sharp counters.

SMALLER

The fact that Hatton (43-0, 31 KOs) is a physically smaller man who's moving up seven pounds could make an enormous difference -- although that's hardly a lock.

Carmine Basilio defeated Ray Robinson in 1957, moving up a full weight class to win a close decision over the bigger and vastly more skilled Sugarman. Dick Tiger, a former middleweight champ, out-slugged Jose Torres in 1967 to take the latter's light heavy-weight crown. Ring history has dozens more examples of the smaller man prevailing, but it remains the exception, not the rule.

Hatton has a well-deserved reputation as a brutal puncher with above average ring generalship, but Mayweather is so technically superior that it's difficult to imagine him getting hit with any degree of consistency.

Mayweather's mobility, punch rate and ability to stay out of harm's way means Hatton will have to attempt to crowd him from the opening bell, risking considerable punishment.

RAKED

I look for the Englishman to be raked by a blizzard of slashing counters that will almost surely open cuts around his eyes before Round 6.

"This fight won't go the distance, I'll promise you that," Mayweather said at the final media conference in Las Vegas earlier this week. "All these guys say they're gonna be the one to put me in my place, but I'm still undefeated. And I'll still be undefeated come Sunday."

Hatton's not buying it.

"Floyd has barely scraped through by the skin of his teeth on a couple of occasions," he said. "In the (May) fight with Oscar De La Hoya, Oscar died in the last six rounds and Mayweather only won that fight by the skin of his teeth because of that. This is the end for him."

If Mayweather opts to get down and dirty, it will be more difficult - but I can't see that happening.

He'll frustrate Hatton for the first half of the fight, and once the smaller man starts loading up and missing on a regular basis, Mayweather will try to put him away. Look for Pretty Boy Floyd to win by late stoppage or a tough decision.

QUICK JABS: Enormous Eric (Butterbean)Esch will arrive in Edmonton tonight and be ringside for tomorrow's KO Boxing card at the Shaw Conference Centre. Esch, who went 10 rounds with former world heavyweight champ Larry Holmes a few years back, is here to hype his bout on KO's First Blood MMA card Dec. 28 at the Shaw.


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