By Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports
December 5, 2007
LAS VEGAS – Ricky Hatton believes his refusal to back down to Floyd Mayweather in Wednesday's press conference face-off has exposed crucial cracks in his opponent's psyche.
As the pair stood toe-to-toe for the benefit of the cameras, Mayweather jostled Hatton, then responded angrily when the Englishman failed to move backwards.
Mayweather, regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, was later irked further when his interview with a collection of journalists was disrupted by music from the England national soccer team band – which has lent its support to Hatton for the week.
"I will go away and forget about it but he might be seething," said Hatton, who would likely leap from number eight on the Yahoo! Sports rankings to the top spot with a victory on Saturday. "It is water off a duck's back to me, but for someone who plays off confidence so much like him, it will have hurt him.
"He started leaning on me so I leaned back on him just a little bit and he spat his dummy out. I would have stood there until the bell rang. I wasn't backing off.
"There is a time for me to laugh and joke and be my sarcastic self but we are two days away now – don't lean on me or I will (expletive) lean on you back."
"You have got to look a bit intimidating to scare someone. He gets up there with his waistcoat and his tie and gets in my face. I don't know if he has looked in the mirror – he is not the most menacing of characters. Who is he (expletive) trying to frighten? I think I rattled him. Has it worked? It might have done."
Although he insists otherwise, Mayweather is clearly frustrated that even in his hometown, Hatton attracts support that is far more vocal and passionate.
Around 300 Brits waited outside the press conference at the MGM Grand and screamed their boxer's name every time the door opened even for a moment.
Mayweather was adamant that the confrontation, which ended with Hatton drawing his finger across his throat in a "you're dead" gesture, would not affect him.
"I have been face-to-face, toe-to-toe with a guy before," said the 30-year-old WBC welterweight champ. "I won't change. I will go home, put my fireplace and my TV on.
"I'm not worried. He can say what he wants. He never got under my skin, don't put that out."
However, when the band started up in the far corner of the room during Mayweather's Q and A session he immediately barked at a member of security staff to quieten them down.
As Saturday's showdown approaches, the noise will only get louder. Hatton's band is drumming up support, literally, all around Las Vegas, and has made it their personal mission to wind up Mayweather as much as possible.
"Floyd has made it quite clear that we annoy him," said band leader Steve Holmes. "That is like music to our ears. We will be there on fight night making a hell of a noise for Ricky. Floyd might think he is on home ground but it won't feel like it once he walks into the arena."
Martin Rogers is a staff writer for Yahoo! Sports.
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Updated on Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007 9:54 pm, EST
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