Hatton hopes Mayweather sticks to dancing

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NEW YORK, Sep 20 (Reuters) Ricky Hatton tries to ignore the taunts of World Boxing Council welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, hoping to make a knockout statement in the ring at their Dec. 8 title clash in Las Vegas.

Mayweather, a six-times champion in five different weight classes, ridiculed the Briton this week by calling him ''Vicky Fatton'' on the first stop of their promotional tour.

''I think he's lacking class,'' Hatton told reporters yesterday.

''Spending an afternoon with Floyd at a press conference doesn't make me feel like writing a book and saying good things about him.

''He'll never have the love of the fans the way he carries on.'' Image is important to Hatton, who dominated as a junior welterweight before stepping up in class for the biggest match-up of undefeated welterweights since Oscar de la Hoya and Felix Trinidad clashed in 1999.

SLICK FIGHTER Mayweather, a slick fighter hailed as the world's best pound-for-pound boxer, has a 38-0 record. The hard-hitting Hatton is 43-0.

''I'm just a regular guy who likes to do what any 28-year-old would do,'' the Englishman said. ''I play darts with my local pub team. I go and have a pint with my mates. I'm very close with my family and with my old mates.

''Guinness is my drink. Maybe that's why he named me Vicky Fatton,'' he said, patting his tummy.

Hatton, looking reasonably fit in a pin-striped suit, said he aimed to knock out Mayweather.

''Some fighters are just happy to get the win,'' he said in a sneering reference to Mayweather's defensive tactics. ''It's never my intention to just get the win.

''I like to think that when I retire, when you put on fight videos from your home library of the exciting fights, mine will be up there before Floyd's. That's important to me, very important to me. That's why I've got the following I've got.

''That's why fans like me, because they can relate to me.'' Hatton resisted efforts by Mayweather to goad him into action in front of the cameras at Rockefeller Plaza but took his own verbal swipe at the champion, who is a contestant on the ''Dancing with the Stars'' TV show.

''It wouldn't be the sort of thing I'd do,'' Hatton told reporters. ''But the longer he stays in it, the better for me, so vote for Floyd.

''Actually it could be good training for the amount of back-peddling he'll have to do.'' REUTERS BJR AS1019

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