Floyd May Have Taken The Bait

June 26, 2007 – 4:43 am by Ryan Phillips

After finishing off an aging Jose Luis Castillo via a fourth-round knockout Saturday night, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton had some choice words for Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hatton claimed he wanted to face the man universally regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and he even tossed a little Mayweather-style trash talking into his request. He was clearly baiting the “Pretty Boy,” hoping he could draw him out of his semi-retirement for another mega-fight. Well, it looks like Mayweather snagged that bait, chewed it down and spit it right back at Hatton.

Early this morning, Mayweather’s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe claimed Hatton’s verbal thrashing did not go unnoticed. “He got Floyd’s attention. Now we’re calling his bluff,” Ellerbe told the New York Daily News. He didn’t stop there:

“All he has to do is make a deal and he’ll have his chance to back up all that talk. All that’s standing between him and Floyd is air and opportunity. We can make the deal this week. He’s very, very disrespectful. He’s trying to promote himself off Floyd’s name. When we make the deal, we’ll show the world why he’s the most overrated fighter of this decade … Floyd has never taken any fight personally. But he’s taking this personally. Floyd is going to kick his butt.”

Ellerbe also went on to say that Floyd wasn’t impressed by Hatton’s resounding win over Castillo Saturday night and called Hatton a phoney. Wow, if boxing didn’t interest you yesterday, it probably should now. Hatton is the ultimate action fighter. He goes forward more than anyone in the sport, with the exception of Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather is a slick, savvy, defensive-minded fighter, this would be a great clash in styles. The best part is that Mayweather is the American and I can guarantee that 90 percent of the country would be rooting against him, simply because the British Hatton is so likable.

This was a brilliant move by Hatton. After seeing Miguel Cotto’s crowd-pleasing victory over Zab Judah, he was clearly next in line for a shot at Mayweather. He has the credentials, popularity and ability to make for a great matchup. So Hatton knew he had to somehow wedge himself between Cotto and Mayweather, enter the trash-talking episode at the end of Saturday night’s fight. Now Floyd has to take the fight or he’d be seen as ducking a challenge. As for Cotto, don’t cry for him. I’d be willing to bet fairly heavily that if he survives the upcoming battle with the winner of the Paul Williams-Antonio Margarito fight (on July 14th), he’ll be the next opponent for Oscar De La Hoya.

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