British boxing fans are blaming a hooligan element and Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s inflammatory remarks for the booing of the American national anthem at the Ricky Hatton-Mayweather fight Saturday.
"That was not directed at Americans, it was directed at Mayweather and his bigheadedness," said Sean Reynolds, a 19-year-old boxer from West Yorkshire, England.
The booing and whistling came from a faction of British soccer fans who are "well-known for their hooliganism," Reynolds said.
Mayweather, who knocked out Hatton, the undefeated British champ, in the 10th round Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden, deserves some of the blame, said Reynolds and his father, Mark, who runs a boxing club.
Mayweather incited the British fans with his relentless verbal abuse of Hatton, they told me.
Mayweather "has become Public Enemy No. 1" in Britain because "he's so brash. He puts everyone down," said Mark Reynolds, 40.
He predicted "the biggest fight ever" if Mayweather meets Hatton in a rematch in England's 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium.
BRONCS, BULLS, BASEBALL
Next year's National Finals Rodeo could have a herd of baseball legends popping up in the crowd.
That's because baseball's winter meetings are, for the first time, in Las Vegas. They are to run Dec. 8-11, and the 2008 NFR runs Dec. 4-13.
On the subject of baseball, Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to add to his legend.
Competing against U.S. pro athletes, the Japanese star won the longest-drive competition last month during a tournament at Shadow Creek, the exclusive MGM Mirage course.
Matsuzaka became a national hero in Japan's top high school baseball tournament in 1998 when he threw 250 pitches in a 17-inning game a day after a 148-pitch complete game shutout. In the tournament finale, he threw a no-hitter.
Also taking bows at Shadow Creek was Fred Couples, who tied Tiger Woods' course record with an 11-under par 60. That's a big step for a guy who has been out of competition since the Masters with a serious back injury.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith is reporting Cher has canceled her headline appearance at a Los Angeles gala because of a health problem. Cher announced more than a year ago that she had a deal to headline at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, but there has been no official confirmation. There have been reports an announcement is being withheld until Bette Midler launches her show at Caesars in February. ...
Southern Wines' Larry Ruvo and his wife, Camille, on Sunday attended the White House Christmas party featuring Italian singing star Andrea Bocelli. The Ruvos wound up sitting beside President Bush and first lady Laura Bush.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, dining Sunday night with David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, "Posh Spice," at SW Steakhouse in Wynn Las Vegas. Will Ferrell was in Saturday with a group. ... Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, hanging out with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the Mayweather-Hatton fight. Jolie and Pitt visited Hatton in his dressing room after the loss. ... Kid Rock, deejaying Sunday at Drai's in Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon. ... Hatton, with a party of 100, arriving at 12:30 a.m. Sunday at The Bar at Times Square in New York-New York for some dueling piano action. "It's the fifth time he's come in to see us," said Chris Nelson, the lead piano entertainer. Hatton continued his post-fight nightclub tour with stops at Body English in the Hard Rock Hotel and LAX nightclub in Luxor and the latter's VIP room, Noir Bar. ... Entertainment executive Tracey Edmonds, celebrating her bachelorette party Saturday with friends at Tao Las Vegas in The Venetian. She's engaged to movie star Eddie Murphy. ... Holly and Bridget of "Girls Next Door," filming a "Mindfreak" episode Monday with Criss Angel at Mandalay Place at Mandalay Bay. ... Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, showing up Monday with a donation at the Christmas toy drive organized by Chet Buchanan of KLUC-FM, 98.5. ... Former NFL coach Dick Vermeil, stopping by the Montelago Village Resort on Thursday at Lake Las Vegas. ... Comedian and radio show host Adam Carolla and ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons, watching the Steelers-Patriots game Sunday at ESPN Zone in New York-New York. ... Correction: C.C. Sabathia and Kenny Lofton play for the Cleveland Indians.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Put on Regis Philbin's Christmas album." -- From David Letterman's Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear at Your Office Christmas Party