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Mayweather Tries to Lift Boxing Off the Canvas

Boxing doesn't have the cultural resonance it once had, becoming more of a niche sport in recent years -- similar to, say, men's tennis.

But undefeated (38-0) welterweight Floyd Mayweather, universally recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter on earth, is trying to change all that.

Mayweather takes on Ricky Hatton (43-0) Saturday night at Las Vegas' MGM Grand, a matchup being billed as the biggest bout between two undefeated welterweights since Oscar de la Hoya battled Felix Trinidad in 1999.

The bout has created buzz far beyond the often insular world of boxing aficionados, attracting sports fans who may not have gone out of their way to see a match since Mike Tyson left the business.

"Boxing is nowhere near where it used to be, but every once in a while the sports fans say, 'We have to get this fight,' and that seems to be maybe the case this weekend," said CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell.

As with Mayweather's previous fights, this battle will contribute mightily to his personal bottom line. Exact figures for purses are rarely made public, but estimates are that Mayweather will make more than $50 million in 2007, including a May bout against de la Hoya that set records for the biggest pay-per-view and live ticket sales ever.

Saturday's fight against Hatton will air as a pay-per-view on HBO, the cable channel owned by Time Warner. Boxing fans will fork over $54.99 to watch the fight at home, or $10 more if they want it in HD.

As for Hatton, the British pugilist is already a superstar in his native country and beyond. The fighter, who has dominated such big-name boxers as Jose Luis Castillo and Kostya Tszyu, is often half-jokingly referred to as one of the biggest sports franchises in Manchester -- second only to the Manchester United football club.