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Bernard Fernandez | Move over, Buster


IF YOU ARE an underdog fighter hoping to pull off an upset, whose name are you most likely to invoke?

In most instances, that would be the patron saint of longshots, Buster Douglas, the 42-1 'dog who pulled off the shocker to end all shockers when he knocked out the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson in 10 rounds on Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo.

But Ricky Hatton is from Manchester, England, so you can hardly blame him for referencing a less celebrated bout as proof that anything can happen in boxing. It should come as no surprise that the man Hatton hopes to emulate on Saturday night against WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (38-0, 24 KOs) is a British fighter who defied the odds.

Remember when Lloyd Honeyghan hammered Donald Curry on Sept. 27, 1986, at Caesars Atlantic City? Referee Octavio Meyran - who 3 1/2 years later was the third man in the ring for Tyson-Douglas - stopped the bout after the sixth round on the advice of ring physicians Frank Doggett and Paul Williams, who concluded Curry was in no shape to go on after suffering a broken nose, split lip and huge gash over his left eye.

"I think most people would have called Donald Curry the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the time," said Hatton, who was not quite 8 years old the night Honeyghan became an international sensation.

"Lloyd's best attribute when he came into the ring was his fearless approach. He was, like, 'I don't care that you're Donald Curry or who you've beat or how many titles you've won.' He didn't look at the stats. He just looked at the man. He went at Curry straight away, let the punches go, put controlled pressure on him and totally threw him off his stride.

"Nobody gave Lloyd Honeyghan a chance. Nobody gave me a chance against Kostya Tszyu. The guy with the most talent doesn't always win. Sometimes it comes down to who wants it most, who's in the best shape, who gets off to the best start. There's lots of things that go into the equation. Look at how many upsets there's been in boxing history. I have the style to give Floyd Mayweather absolute nightmares."

It's a nice little story - another no-hope Brit attempting to climb the mountain - except it doesn't jibe with the facts.

Hey, Hatton (43-0, 31 KOs) is unbeaten, same as Mayweather. And, although Mayweather, widely recognized as the pound-for-pound best, opened as a 12-5 favorite in the Nevada sports books, just wait until thousands of Hatton's fans arrive from the UK and begin betting heavily on their hero. The odds against Hatton are apt to dip by the opening bell.

The circumstances were more than a little similar when Honeyghan surprised Curry, who held the WBC, WBA and IBF 147-pound titles. Except it really wasn't that huge a surprise; Honeyghan came in as the European and British Commonwealth welterweight champion, with a 27-0 record that included 18 victories inside the distance. Curry was 25-0, with 19 KOs.

Time, alas, was not kind to either principal. Honeyghan was only 15-5 after he beat Curry. Curry's career shredded like a wet paper towel. He was only 9-6 after he squared off against Honeyghan, losing four more times on stoppages.

You are what you eat

Blond and unapologetically bohemian, Urijah Faber looks like a throwback to the era when young, anti-establishment types staged sit-ins and preached peace and love.

"I basically was raised in kind of a religious Christian hippie environment," said Faber, 28, the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion who defends his title Dec. 12 against Jeff Curran at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. "My parents [Suzanne Tastad and Theo Faber] taught me to lead an all-around healthy lifestyle. I never had an immunization shot. We believed in natural remedies. I'd have a big glass of beet juice in the morning instead of orange juice. It definitely was pretty unique."

Unique, too, is the choice a second-generation flower child made to go into mixed martial arts, which seemingly is at odds with the nonviolent philosophy espoused by his mom and dad.

"I just followed my heart and it led me to MMA," said Faber, who grew up in Sacramento, Calif., wrestled at the University of California-Davis and earned a degree in social development. "I've always been drawn to contact sports. That just appealed to me ever since I can remember."

Faber, who trained at the Philadelphia MMA Academy in South Philly a day last month, said his adherence to an all-natural diet is at least partly responsible for his 19-1 record, which includes an 11-match winning streak.

"I crave a healthy lifestyle, and it definitely gives me a competitive advantage," Faber said.

Punch lines

Israel's Elad Shmouel (18-1, 9 KOs) and North Philly's Lenny DeVictoria (9-10, 2 KOs) swap punches in the eight-round junior welterweight main event Friday night at the Blue Horizon . . . It'll be Richard Stewart (14-4-2, 8 KOs), of New Castle, Del., and Andre Hemphill (6-6-2, 2 KOs), of Woodbridge, Va., in the eight-round light-heavyweight headliner Saturday at the Police Athletic League facility in Hockessin, Del. *

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