Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Billy on the Box: Ricky Flattened

Floyd is in the pink in Las Vegas

As I'm writing this I don't know who was named Sports Personality of the Year last night but having sat up all night to cheer on Ricky Hatton I feel I should be in with a shout.

Let's face it, I won the same as Lewis Hamilton and the England rugby team - nothing - and with all the talk of whizzing in public I didn't know if they meant Jason Robinson's running about or Paula Radcliffe's runs of a different kind.

It would be a smack in the mouth for Hatton - mind you not the hardest one he got over the weekend - if he didn't figure, but maybe one of the Queen's relatives did something so they'll win.

This is the not the time for anti-royalty rant, but there was plenty of flag-waving in the States with 20,000 lagered-up fans over for the fight.

In the build-up the highlight had been the weigh-in where the Man City fan's blue language left Sky rather red-faced.

And talking of red faces, on came Sir Tom Jones to belt out the national anthem. I think it was Tom Jones, it may well have been a satsuma in a suit, and that is unusual.

The Brits won the anthems, but we lost out in the celeb fan stakes, Becks and Colleen McLaughlin losing out to Tiger Woods and Angelina Jolie. Where was Kirk from Corrie when you needed him?

There was also the bizarre sight of two former bitter enemies who waged war on each other for years laughing and joking and enjoying themselves.

That's enough about Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness though, Thomas Hearns and the great Sugar Ray Leonard were there too.

It was a good night for boxing, Amir Khan coming out more like Genghis to dispose of his opponent in about the same time Imran gets to dander down the street in Islamabad these days.

Over on the Beeb we had John Duddy and the population of Derry taking over Belfast, and some great commentary from Jim Neilly and Hugh Russell, with Sam Storey not put off by Stephen Watson's shirt.

But they had to give second best to Ian Darke and Jim Watt for the main event.

Watt was brilliant, slamming the slaphead referee Joe Cortez who would have been better being patted on the head very quickly by Benny Hill with his farcical handling of the fight.

But at 5.28am it was all over. The sad sight of a man in his prime, sprawling about the floor trying to regain consciousness and some lost pride.

And as for Ricky Hatton...



Cigarettes and alcohol and a roll with it

You can say what you like about the Americans but when they do something well they're hard to beat.

I'm not just talking about Floyd Mayweather here, but he was one half of HBO's superb four-part documentary on his preparations to fight Ricky Hatton.

The 24/7 fly-on-the-wall look at their training camps was first class and seemed to focus mainly on how much Hatton munched and how much Mayweather loved himself and his dosh.

The Ricky Fatton line was played out quite a lot, the narrator telling us that, by the end of his training, he had lifted 38 tonnes - of pies, I presume.

His trainer admitted that Hatton 'blowing up' between fights was not good for him. Good for the pubs and chippies of Manchester!

It made me think, though, that I'm actually halfway to becoming Ricky Hatton, all I need to do now is catch up on all the training I've missed for the past 30-odd years.

This was all done to the backdrop of Cigarettes and Alcohol by Oasis, with Hatton asking 'how's he going to feel when this fat kid beats him?'

Probably going to have some chips, and a roll with it.

His taking the hand out of Mayweather's training techniques was hilarious, running around the ring like Duncan Norvelle but instead of being chased he got a good lacing when he got to Las Vegas.

With Mayweather counting his money and flaunting it at every opportunity I desperately wanted to despise him but it was hard when the star of the show arrived - his three-year-old nephew Lehkei.

He was floating around like a mini Muhammad Ali, giving the oven in Floyd's kitchen a good thrashing, while Ricky was probably getting ripped into an oven-ready turkey back in Manchester.



Look out, it's the Honey monster

With Sky using every nanosecond to tell us about the biggest fight ever (well, until the next one) there was some barrel-scraping to be done.

And the biggest barrel of all came in the shape - and what a shape - of former WBO, WBC and IBF welterweight champion Lloyd Honeyghan.

I actually thought he had eaten all three champions as he filled the set dressed in a black fur coat and similarly trimmed hat.

He looked more like the Honey Monster's big brother, but was sweeter than a big bowl of Sugar Puffs as he tried to woo Vicki Gomersall.

The red sunglasses he was wearing were clearly being issued around the world as he told us that once he had won in America he became famous and was still recognised today.

He told us he had a boxing brain and a fighting brain. I'm guessing they came with a lot of chips.



Bunce in a lifetime

When Gabby Logan asked us what our favourite bits were in Inside Sport, I had high hopes that the late broadcast time would mean the blonde luvly getting her cha-cha-chas out.

Sadly it wasn't to be but, finally, Steve Bunce's value to the show came through as he followed Team Hatton to Las Vegas for a superb piece on the build-up to the fight.

But did you notice that, no matter who is featured, when music is heard on the show it means using a band from the town where the star is from.

I suppose with Hatton's nickname being the Hitman we can just be thankful that Michaela Strachan didn't make an appearance.

For the record (sorry!), we had Oasis, The Stone Roses and Doves, and I was just glad BBCNI didn't follow suit with John Duddy.

Imagine the scenes if he stepped through the ropes with Dana banging out of the PA System.

Mad for it. Or perhaps not.



The final word

There are some things that even Jackie Fullerton can't control. The Beeb's planned coverage of the CIS Cup Final washed out as the winter monsoons landed in south Belfast. Noah was spotted heading towards the Village with what, at first, we thought were two sheep but, on closer inspection, it turned out to be Jackie's hair!

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