LAS VEGAS - If Floyd Mayweather's welterweight title bout with Ricky Hatton tonight is half as good as the weigh-in, boxing fans are in for a remarkable finish to a strong year.
From the floor to the rafters, one end of the MGM Grand Garden Arena was packed with 5,930 singing, whistling, clapping fans. About 5,929 seemed to be supporting Hatton, the wildly popular underdog - including the small brass band sponsored by a British newspaper.
"There's only onnnnnnne Ricky Hatton!" they sang relentlessly - and when Hatton finally took the stage, they roared approval.
Mayweather ascended to the scales with fellow
Dancing With the Stars
contestants Wayne Newton and Helio Castroneves holding his belts. Mayweather's sons, 7-year-old Shamaree and 8-year-old Koraun, also held up belts won by their father - but not even the kids could deflect the boos.
"That was amazing," said Castroneves, the Brazilian two-time Indy 500 champion who won the dance contest. "I was right behind Wayne, in case something goes wrong. . . . At least they were more organized than Brazilian soccer fans. They'll be singing one thing over here and one thing over there, and they don't get it together like that."
Hatton, a longtime junior welterweight, weighed in at 145 pounds, while Mayweather hit the limit of 147.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer even got in a crack, drawing boos when he claimed President Bush had called Vegas in concern.
"The last time this many British invaded America, it was 1812 and you burned down the White House!" Buffer said.
Hopkins-Calzaghe heats up.
Though Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe haven't even agreed to fight next year, they're already going toe-to-toe.
Hopkins and Calzaghe had never met before yesterday, but they confronted each other in the press room and again on the weigh-in stage. The scuffles - and a racially tinged remark by Hopkins - piqued already strong interest in the veteran fighters' potential meeting next summer at Yankee Stadium or another East Coast outdoor venue.
Here are the numbers for tonight's bout between Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the World Boxing Council welterweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas:
43-0-0 (31 KOs)
38-0-0 (24 KOs)