The contenders' strengths and weaknesses.
Hatton struggled in his only previous contest at the 147lbs limit against Luis Collazo last year. Despite much more thorough preparations, it remains likely that a natural 140lb fighter would always struggle in contests against world-class welterweights.
He has won a world title at light middleweight, but Mayweather is no natural 147lb fighter like Collazo. In fact, he won his first world title at super-featherweight.
In addition, Mayweather's slippery skills are hardly conducive to the prospect of Hatton feeling the effects of too much relentless power from a heavier man.
Mayweather might have floored a weight drained Diego Corrales five times, but was never going to put away the naturally bigger Oscar De La Hoya and his only stoppage wins in the last four years have come against fastfading fighters.
Hatton carries a more powerful reputation, enhanced by the chilling liver shot which put away Jose Luis Castillo in his last fight. But by the same token, he failed to put away either Collazo or the granite-chinned Juan Urango.
Hatton's ability to fling accurate body shots is where his chance lies. The problem is, he has to catch his man first.
Even Hatton will have to go some to match the striking speed of Mayweather, whose snappy right hand brings with it the virtual guarantee of rounds scored in his favour.
However, he will not yet have come up against as determined and durable a foe as Hatton. It is his lightning speed, allied with an ability to make split-second shot selections, which has played a pivotal role in Hatton's success - and will make or break his chances.
Questions were raised over Hatton's ability to last the pace during his win over Urango, but he put his slight fading down to a virus.
Mayweather may seem to have proved his stamina levels but his slippery style has enabled him to coast through countless rounds.
Hatton's effort will have to be simply Herculean if he is going to pile on enough pressure to win enough rounds. Mayweather's style is less taxing on the body.
Mayweather has rubbished Hatton's fighting style, insisting he can only fight coming forward with his head low and flinging punches.
Hatton claims Mayweather can only fight on the back foot and that his biggest problem is how to catch him. Mayweather's skills are dazzlingly adaptable, while Hatton's constant pressure belies a sharp boxing brain.
Hatton is undoubtedly the current boxer best equipped to dethrone Mayweather. He will work cleverly up close and seize every opportunity to hustle and harry the champion.
Mayweather, on the other hand, must dream of another fight fought on the back foot at arm's length.
That clash of intentions makes this a far more difficult fight to forecast than many of Mayweather's biggest supporters would have you believe.
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 2007|
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