LAS VEGAS – Dozens of men who have been around boxing for years left the MGM Grand Garden saying it was the best boxing event they'd ever seen.
Unfortunately for Ricky Hatton, the weigh-in on Friday was the high point of his match against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Hatton made the WBC welterweight title match into an event – one that drew a passionate sellout crowd of 16,459 – with his charisma and his toughness, but he was no match for the world's finest fighter.
It was Mayweather who landed nearly all of the big shots on Saturday and eventually stopped Hatton at 1:35 of the 10th round to retain his status as boxing's pound-for-pound kingpin.
The only chance Hatton had was to find a way to get inside and pummel Mayweather's body. But Mayweather held a seven-inch reach advantage and a significant edge in speed and quickness.
Mayweather also has a PhD in boxing, so he can fight more than one way. He proved that by besting Hatton at the in-fighting that had led the popular Briton to 43 consecutive wins.
Mayweather has frequently used his jab and his legs and boxed from a distance, much to the ire of fans who wanted to see a slugfest, but he did what he promised on Saturday and delivered an offensive show.
He only threw 72 jabs, which is low for him, but he connected on 100 of 257 power shots, which was indicative of his willingness to engage Hatton.
The force of the blows from a legitimate welterweight began to take their toll on Hatton, who was moving up from super lightweight, and he began to wilt by the eighth round when the action turned in Mayweather's direction.
With his willingness to engage Hatton, Mayweather should have put an end forever to the notion that he's a defensive-oriented, safety-first fighter.
Hatton attacked Mayweather as if he thought he'd signed for a Greco-Roman wrestling match, but Mayweather made him pay for the strategy by consistently winning the exchanges on the inside.
Early in the second round, Hatton raced forward and Mayweather stepped to the side and raked Hatton with a straight right that buckled Hatton's knees. The raucous pro-Hatton crowd let out an audible gasp.
Hatton never gave himself punching room, getting too close to land anything of significance. And Mayweather made the adjustments he needed to keep the pressure on Hatton and keep himself out of danger.
"It's about skills, it's about adapting, it's about making adjustments and that's what Floyd Mayweather did," light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins said. "Floyd is the best fighter in the world of this era and he showed that round after round."
Hatton landed only 63 punches in the nine-plus rounds.
But Mayweather punished him when he did with short, hard blows in the early rounds before opening up with his good stuff in the middle rounds.
By the 10th, it was obvious it was only going to be a matter of time. Mayweather landed what he calls a "check hook" that landed above Hatton's ear. It sent Hatton hurtling into the corner, where he crashed headfirst into the corner pad and then went down.
He struggled up at nine, only to take a three-punch combination. Hatton's corner threw in the towel just as referee Joe Cortez was stepping in to halt the carnage.
Mayweather's performance set up what could be a massive promotion against WBA champion Miguel Cotto.
But that fight likely won't happen until the second half of the year. Mayweather has fought three times in 13 months, and went through two 24/7 documentaries by HBO, as well as appearing on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
He'll probably take at least six to nine months off – "I need a vacation," he pleaded on Saturday – before thinking about fighting again.
He'll make about $20 million for Saturday's bludgeoning and could make far more than that with a rematch against Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya had said before the bout that he would fight either Mayweather, Cotto or Hatton in his next fight on May 3.
De La Hoya wouldn't give away any secrets after the fight, but Mayweather sighed and said he's tired.
"I don't even want to talk about fighting right now," Mayweather said. "I just got done with a fight an hour ago. It's not time for me to think of that."
Hatton wasn't in a mood to think about fighting again, either, though he said he'd continue his career.
He realized he was in for a long night when he signed or the event, but had hoped he'd break Mayweather down with his pressure.
But his punches had little impact on Mayweather, whose chin is vastly underrated. Hatton shrugged after, knowing he'd done all he was able to and it was still not nearly enough.
"What can I say? I was doing all right until I (expletive) slipped," Hatton said, joking.
He went on to praise Mayweather as the game's best fighter, in what is becoming a familiar refrain.
Mayweather, though, added a different dimension, firing in more power punching, hearkening to the days of Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, who sat ringside.
"I hope you liked that," Mayweather said to Leonard as the pair embraced. "I wanted to have a fight like that in front of you. You were the best and now I am."
- Also: Round-by-round recap
- Ricky Hatton