We quickly skate past a few tan, shriveled leaves planted into the freshly fallen snow on our way to Lito's house. As we say farewell for now to the brisk evening air, we are warmly greeted by our friends and by a beckoning from Lito's 42-inch plasma television set. It's fight night, but the main event isn't for hours. Still, there is a chant and call ringing from his set, nestled next to the kids' computer room…..

There's only one Ricky Hatton,
There's only one Ricky Hatton,
Singing what's along,
Singing a song,
In the Ricky Hatton wonderland.

It sounds familiar, but at first I can't place it. Ah yes, the tune is "Walking In A Winter Wonderland," but the lyrics ring fresh to my ears. My wife goes off to the kitchen near the back of the house to spend some time with her friend, Lito's wife, Maria. Nursing shop talk over tea, no interest concerning the pressing issue of the evening.

Ham-and-eggers brawl it out on the plasma screen as I settle into a plush armchair directly across from the set. Some of our other friends are there as well. The guys have gathered around the set, chit-chatting about how life is going, small-talking during the prelims. There reaches again from the set the mantra. Loud, but sketchy, the throng in attendance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas does not wait for the main event to get the party started. 

My eyes swing from my friends to the set, as a shot of Ricky Hatton in his dressing room shoots through to us as well as the fans at the MGM. There is a roar in the arena, and then I begin to understand.

There's only one Ricky Hatton,
There's only one Ricky Hatton,
Singing what's along,
Singing a song,
In the Ricky Hatton wonderland.

Hatton is tonight's underdog, a position he is not used to nor appreciates. He has traveled from Manchester, England, checking in at the airport a perfect 43-0 record and sporting his passport which reads, "Toast of England." To say that his legions travel well is an understatement. Literally thousands of his countrymen have made their way over the pond and have filed into the MGM Grand in support of their hero.  

If Hollywood were casting the tough-as-nails, in your face Brit that comes to challenge the great, black, flashy champion, Hatton's agent would get their call. Rocky as welterweight, Hatton has the face of a fighter who has been cut and battered, but his 43-0 record sides up and tells me, "Mate, no worries. You should see the other guys."

My wife expresses concern that the home-made salsa we brought has too much garlic in it. The sound of crunching nacho chips lathered in tomato and onion suggests otherwise.

The last prelim is thankful, over and the mood of Lito's living room changes as if on cue. Talk of office politics and basketball grow dim. Championship boxing, even now, brings a feeling unlike any other event. Two undefeated champions, the savage intensity of the game, the knowledge that missing one punch could mean missing the entire night.

The camera shoots to the dressing room of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today. His orange and grey robe hangs behind him, orange and grey gloves being fitted snugly over black fists rolled into white tape. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a homeboy cool that never wanders. He is a star and knows it. Likes it. 38-0 and best in the world? He'll tell you so, and not shyly, but he needs to prove it tonight against the gritty and talented Hatton. The arena boos its displeasure when Mayweather appears on screen in his dressing room. The thumping drums and blaring horns the Brits have lugged with them begin to dilate.

There's only one Ricky Hatton,
There's only one Ricky Hatton,
Singing what's along,
Singing a song,
In the Ricky Hatton wonderland.

Mayweather, ever unphased, a tight, smug grin sneaking out of the corners of his mouth. He is helped to a small gulp of water from a bottle glistening with moisture.

Lito's boys run into the living room as Hatton comes into the arena for the biggest fight of his career. The boys glance at the screen and say something to their father about a score on their video game. They receive a bit of attention but as timing is everything, they would have received far more fanfare from the group 20 minutes earlier. It is the main event, they will understand and partake one day, and the room tenses up even more.

Hatton's Army is rabid. The arena takes the feel of a home game for the Brits, even the feel of a soccer game. I may have found the perfect way to get involved with soccer. Have their fans come over and we watch boxing together. 

Mayweather looks the part of champion. His many title belts are never far from our view and neither is his swagger. Hatton is coming over the sea a challenger, at a higher weight class than he is comfortable with, to face a lightning quick and cagey champion. Sweat drips from each fighter as the introductions are made, the bright lights and the big city draining each combatant, drop by drop. Stars like Brad and Angelina litter ringside. Sugar Ray Leonard is on hand also, to view the fighter that now hold the title he once proudly wore. Fight night has arrived.

The bell clangs and the living room draws silent. All eyes are intently focused on Hatton, who is carrying the fight in a battle more than anything else, of styles and will. The challenger pursues Mayweather early on, the hunter and the hunted, not giving the undefeated champion room to breathe let alone maneuver. 

I get up quickly in between rounds to go get a drink. No time to chat with the ladies. My body has moved to the kitchen, but my mind is firmly back at the plasma, hoping to check on the small scarlet blob that has formed above Hatton's right eye courtesy of Mayweather's handy work. If it were Hatton cutting the champ, it would feel more like factory work, but Mayweather is too cool for that line of work, too pretty. "Pretty Boy" is his nickname in fact, but Hatton couldn't care less for such foolishness as he pushes the fight to Mayweather. Mayweather withstands the pursuit, slowly ramping up his own assault, but Hatton is hanging tough.

There's only one Ricky Hatton,
There's only one Ricky Hatton,
Singing what's along,
Singing a song,
In the Ricky Hatton wonderland.

Hatton's countrymen have hijacked the place and have livened the wires, although bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch the champion is making the challenger look more and more the journeyman. A game, tough customer, but a blue-collar customer nonetheless. I grab a few chips mindlessly and chew without tasting. The champion has sensed blood and for a fighter famous for defense has uncharacteristically began pursuing Hatton. A wicked left hook smashes Hatton, the canvas catching the formerly unbeaten challenger, sending him headlong into the first loss of his professional life.  

Hatton's legions needless to say are disappointed. For the most part, however, they got what they came for outside of their man winning. Their cheer, ringing throughout the desert air from start to finish and pillar to post, describes not only their love affair with their hero, but the fact that Hatton is more to them than just a fighter. He transports them, literally and figuratively, to a wonderland of blood, guts, glory and drama.  

The tension inside all of us has deflated into a feeling of tiredness and satisfaction. The heavy lifting of the evening is over, and the small-talk once again begins as some our friends call it a night. After providing final holiday wishes, my wife and I are greeted by the chilled midnight air. The stillness of sound and night that can only be brought by morning darkness is upon us. Thin pellets of drizzle slice onto our coats as the fresh night air tries to tug us awake. The theme song of the evening travels from my mind and dances onto my lips, "La La La La….In the Ricky Hatton wonderland."