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Monday October 29, 2007 8:56 PM PST

 

THE BRITS ARE COMING…TO SEE FLOYD?

By Michael Swann

In the past couple of weeks both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ricky Hatton have had their turns with the media, discussing their thoughts on their December 8 showdown, fielding questions while hyping the fight. In the process while some truths were told, the spin was in full throttle as well. A great deal of that is expected. After all, they’re selling a fight. Some of the drivel managed to arouse the interest of a certain cynic who penned this article.

Mayweather Promotions, who in their first event are co-promoting the fight with Golden Boy Promotions, are headed by Leonard Ellerbe, who went from Mayweather BFF and advisor to CEO, Mayweather Promotions. During last week’s media telephone press conference, Ellerbe commented that, “Ricky Hatton fans, truth be told, are coming to see Floyd.” He went on further to say, “The reason why this fight is such a hot fight is because Floyd is the face of boxing and Floyd is the draw in this fight. End of discussion.”

Wow, this type of commentary must be rather insulting to the people of Great Britain who are among the most rabid and loyal fans on the planet, particularly when it comes to Ricky Hatton. When Hatton was interviewed a couple of weeks ago he commented that there was a waiting list of 33,000 to come over to see the fight.

But for reasons that we have examined in detail in previous articles, the promoters have opted to go with the 16,000 seat MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas instead of a larger venue that would have been more accommodating to fans in general and the British in particular. Just suffice it to say that the casinos represent a lot of money and it’s definitely to their advantage to hold a mega-event like this, or even the closed circuit telecast, inside of one of their buildings.

You really need not be a rocket scientist to figure out why.

So the Brits, who could have filled the Garden Arena twice over by themselves, are stuck with a measly allotment of 4,000 seats. Hatton said that 15,000 to 20,000 people have booked flights and hotels, so expect a huge British presence at the closed circuit locations, conveniently located at all of the MGM-Mirage properties.

As difficult as it is to believe that there are fans anywhere in the world that would be willing to travel 5,500 miles to root on their favorite fighter, particularly on closed circuit TV, you’d have to be on some wild peyote to think that these boxing fans are coming to see Floyd, as Ellerbe asserts.

What’s amazing about this fight being the fastest sell out in history is that, outside of the UK, no one seems to give Hatton a chance. No matter how boring he may be, Floyd is one skilled pugilist. Hatton’s style of clutch and grab is totally wrong for Floyd. He’ll never catch him, which could be a sorry note on many levels.

Recent odds show Mayweather at -280, Hatton at +220. When the British arrive the gap may narrow but these current odds tell you what the professional bettors think, and those guys don’t throw their money away.

Both men are claiming to be the draw in the fight. Normally, it would be Hatton with his gypsy band of supporters, but with the reduced number of available seats, they’ll be taking it to the streets, or at best, a very large TV screen.

These British closed circuiters may blow out some ballrooms with noise, but they won’t be heard in the arena.

Mayweather will have his fair share of fans, those who appreciate his accomplishments and perhaps Leonard Ellerbe is correct in saying that Floyd might have picked up some crossover appeal with the mainstream press with his exposure on Dancing with the Stars. That is if he didn’t blow it by slamming the show in the press after he was voted off, saying that he didn’t like any of the judges and that they pre judged him from his 24/7 portrayal.

Stylistically, Mayweather just does not make exciting fights, but in all honesty Hatton really doesn’t either in my eyes.
Aside from that, I think it comes down to who you know to get tickets as far as being the draw goes.

I’m of the belief that the demand for tickets was manufactured by the promotional companies and the casinos, using a combination of brilliant business oversight and the experience gained from Mayweather-De La Hoya. They have created their own supply and demand. While I sincerely doubt that they will reach more than half of the 2.4 million PPV buys of Floyd-Oscar, they have the box office/closed circuit program down to a T.

Everyone in boxing knows about the cozy relationship with Golden Boy and MGM. No problem there. But De La Hoya, who right now wears his promoter’s hat as well as anyone in the game observed that, “I believe that when you’re a fighter, you want to fight on that big stage. You want to fight in that big Las Vegas arena like the MGM. I believe that this is Ricky Hatton’s perfect opportunity to be on that stage and shine. There’s no fighter that would want to miss that opportunity. When you fight on that stage you know you’ve made it. So, you know, to fairness to the fighters, obviously we wanted to make it there at the MGM.”

If you believe, even for a moment, that the fight is being held at the MGM in fairness to Ricky rather than to make more money, kindly send me your social security number, checking account number, Visa and Mastercard numbers with expiration dates, and I’ll try to get you a ticket. First row, too.

I guess it’s just business and I fully understand so take it easy with the angry emails. But I would have hoped that given the army of supporters in Hatton’s home country, making huge sacrifices so that they can travel to Vegas and watch him on closed circuit TV, that he might have been a tad more outspoken about the ridiculous ticket rationing.

Even if it was out of his control, just to state his displeasure to the collected media would have really made a statement. He’s Ricky Hatton. He could fight at the mall and draw 4,000 people.

Instead we get, “There’s nothing we can unfortunately do about it,” “Obviously there are other people who make the decisions,” and my favorite, “As we say in England, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

Still, as we stated in a previous column, he and his people should be commended for handling the ticket disbursement of the 4,000 tickets, keeping them out of the hands of the greedy.

NOTES:

In other Mayweather news, it was reported by the AP last week that Floyd was MIA from a Las Vegas campaign event for Illinois Senator Barack Obama after the campaign had concerns about his rap sheet. He had been billed as the co-host of African Americans for Obama in Nevada.

In 2004, Floyd was convicted of misdemeanor battery for punching two women at a Las Vegas nightclub in 2003. He was given suspended prison sentences, $1,000 in fines, and ordered to complete impulse control counseling.

In 2005, he was acquitted of a felony domestic violence charge after his accuser, former girlfriend Josie Harris, changed her story. He was also convicted of misdemeanor battery for a bar fight in Grand Rapids.

Maybe Obama thought that after all that activity in the criminal justice system, Floyd would be better suited for the other party.

 

Michael Swann can be reached at mswann4@aol.com.
 
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