Ricky Hatton will evoke the spirit of Roberto Duran in his quest to become the first man to defeat Floyd Mayweather and thus establish himself as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
That is the view of the British fighter's trainer, Billy Graham, who said yesterday that news of a verbal agreement between representatives of Hatton and Mayweather for a December fight in Las Vegas was "a dream come true". Contracts are expected to be signed in the coming days for a fight which will earn Hatton around [pound]8m and Mayweather much more and is likely to take place on 8 December.
Referring to Duran's famous win over Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal in 1980, when Duran lured his opponent into a brawl and claimed a points win, Graham said: "This is Ricky's Sugar Ray Leonard fight. It's the first Duran-Leonard fight all over again. Look at how Duran won that fight and you will see how Ricky will beat Floyd. I have been studying Floyd for years with a view to this fight.
"Floyd is a fantastic fighter, whom I respect a lot for what he has achieved. I never doubted this fight would be made because they are both true warriors who want to fight the best. But I know Ricky will win."
Ray Hatton, Ricky's father, said that a verbal agreement had been struck between lawyers for both parties over issues including, crucially, the financial split. But he said he would remain cautious until contracts had been exchanged. "We have agreed a deal in principle," he said. "I can't honestly tell you a deal has been done until I see the signatures on all the documents. But both sides were happy with what we finalised verbally."
It is believed the fight could be announced officially today, with May-weather's advisers having told US media sources it is a done deal. The speed with which such a big fight appears to have been put together will surprise those used to seeing potential su- perfights mired in politics and financial problems. …