Tag Archives: ricky hatton

Does boxing really need a saviour?

As far as sports go, few have managed out-point boxing in the realm of self-promotion and hyperbole. This week has seen British heavyweight David Haye become the latest fighter to proclaim upon himself the status of ‘the saviour of boxing’.

Haye has finally agreed a contract to fight Wladimir Klitschko, the 6ft 6in Ukrainian who currently holds the IBF, WBO and IBO versions of the heavyweight world title. Klitschko’s older brother, Vitali, holds the WBC version of the title and is regarded by the influential Ring Magazine as the top heavyweight in the world. Many commentators and fans have pointed to the two giant Ukrainians as the problem with boxing; they are effective fighters, but they rarely excite a crowd.

David Haye has promised to save boxing

David Haye has promised to save boxing

Haye, by contrast, is the brash, fast talking, big punching Londoner who has recently stepped up from cruiserweight and says he can re-ignite the heavyweight division and bring some much needed life back to the sport of boxing.

In a press conference this week Haye took his confidence to a new level, claiming that “I’m taking this fight to save boxing. I’m doing this for Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier and all the other great smaller heavyweights of the past”.

Boxers are, by their very nature, no strangers to outlandish claims. Mike Tyson once went as far as saying he planned to eat Lennox Lewis’ children, before promptly losing badly and adopting a much more respectful tone in the post-fight press conference.

Boxing has traditionally looked to the heavyweight division as its premier selling point. During the 1980s and early 1990s, whilst Mike Tyson was the most feared heavyweight for generations, the sport enjoyed great success. During the mid to late 90s, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield were amongst the most recognisable and bankable sportsmen in the world. Since the retirement of these great fighters, there has been no single heavyweight fighter who has captured the imagination of the viewing public, as much as the promoters try to convince us they have ‘the next big thing’ on their hands.

But fight fans across the world are still watching some amazing contests. Aside from the heavyweight division, the sport has rarely been in better shape. Ironically, it is the demise of boxing’s premier tier which has allowed the fighters in other weight categories to flourish and reach new worldwide audiences. Pay-per-view records have been smashed in recent years, not by heavyweight contests, but by match-ups at lower divisions.

Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao are set to go to war on May 2nd in the 140lb light-welterweight division

Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao are set to go to war on May 2nd in the 140lb light-welterweight division

Fighters like Oscar de la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Britian’s Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe have all made a huge impact on the world stage and have become much more recognisable than any current heavyweight. De la Hoya’s fights have made over $600m and his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2007 set the record as the highest grossing pay-per-view fight in history, making a staggering $120m worldwide.

Indeed, with de la Hoya and Mayweather both retired, Hatton and Pacquiao have the two biggest followings in the sport. Their much awaited match up takes place on the 2nd of May in Las Vegas.

As for David Haye’s claim to greatness, we will have to wait until the 20th of June to find out if he can live up to the hype against Wladimir Klitschko and thus revive interest in the heavyweight division. For now though, it appears the boxing viewing public have enough great fights to watch. It is just possible they have not even missed the heavyweights at all.

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Hatton back in the big time after return victory

The future is once again rosy for UK boxer Ricky Hatton after his stylish and, for once, disciplined victory over Paulie Malignaggi in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

After being comprehensively outclassed by ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his last fight, Hatton’s first defeat as a professional, the match up with New Yorker Malignaggi was a true make or break for the Manchester fighter.

Another crushing left from Hatton

Another crushing left from Hatton

Having failed to recreate the form that saw him defeat Kosta Tszyu in 2005, many of Hatton’s recent performances have raised doubts about his future in the sport. The fighter is well known for a love of pies and Guinness between fights that sees his weight baloon by as much as 3 stones. This has lead to many pundits predicting Hatton’s lifestyle has already taken its toll and that he will never be the same fighter he was at 26 or 27.

But Hatton is only 30 years old in a sport which has seen success for many older fighters. Joe Calzaghe is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the moment at the age of 36, but he was lucky to get a split decision over the 43 year old Bernard Hopkins. Oscar de la Hoya, a potential next opponent for Hatton, is as dangerous as ever. Although, it could be argued that it is the discipline of these fighters which has prolonged their careers. This is the discipline which Hatton has lacked.

This weekend though, the old Ricky Hatton returned. And boy were we glad to have him back.

For the last 8 weeks Hatton has been trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr., the father of the only man to have beaten him. As one of the most highly regarded coaches in the world, Mayweather Sr. was always going to be a good appointment. He studied Ricky’s early fights and contrasted them with his more recent ones.

Hatton's new coach, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Mayweather Sr, Hatton's new coach

What he found was Hatton reverting to more of a slugger in his latter fights, standing toe-to-toe with his opponents like a bar-room brawler instead of using the boxing skills he had been so successful with in his earlier career.

With only 8 weeks to work with Hatton before the Malignaggi fight, Mayweather Sr. focussed on Hatton’s defence, citing a lack of head movement; something which proved his undoing against a class act such as Mayweather Jr..

In Saturday’s fight Hatton showed his old boxing skills and a much improved defence. Malignaggi was never expected to knock Hatton out (his record shows just 5 wins by knockout in 27 fights), but his hand speed was expected to provide a stern test for Hatton’s suspect defences.

The first 2 rounds were close, but Malignaggi’s jab came out on top. From then on though, Hatton took over and never lost another round. His defence was tight, his head movement excellent and he threw some punishing overhand lefts. At one point in the 5th Malignaggi was hit by a crushing blow which would have sent him to the canvas, had he not fallen forwards into Hatton, who unwittingly kept his opponent up.

What surprised most pundits at the fight was that from round 3 onwards, Hatton even managed to out-jab his opponent. Eventually, Malignaggi’s corner decided they had seen enough and threw in the towel in the 11th round. With nothing much coming back and their fighter way behind on points, they took the decision that Malignaggi would not have made.

The New Yorker was furious at the decision, even pushing his trainer in the chest after the fight. Malignagi is a proud fighter who had never been stopped before. His only previous defeat come on points against hard-as-nails Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto; a fight in which he sustained a broken hand and a broken jaw, but still fought to the end.

The decision to end the fight looked premature. But, as his corner said afterwards, better to end a fight too early than too late. As game as Malignaggi undoubtedly is, sometimes a fighter just doesn’t know when to quit.

This though, was the Hatton of old. Promoter Lu DiBella said he thought Hatton was possibly better than ever before, but this is more than likely an attempt by him to retain some interest in his fighter Malignaggi, who looked way out of his depth and was ultimately disappointing. This was of course in part due to Hatton’s performance, which showed less of the hot-headed approach of recent fights and instead replaced it with a calm, controlled performance.

What next for Hatton though? Having previously stepped up to 147lbs only twice and struggled badly (one laboured win and his comprehensive defeat to Mayweather Jr.), Hatton said he would be staying at Light-Welterweight. But the big fights and the big money occasions are likely to be at 147lbs and not 140lbs.

Six weight world champion Oscar de la Hoya

Oscar de la Hoya is the name on everybody’s lips. That fight would surely be an epic. De la Hoya is a ring legend; a six-weight world champion who has never ducked a challenge. He lost narrowly on points to Mayweather Jr., giving him a much closer fight that Hatton managed. De la Hoya is

keen to make the match, as is Hatton. The prospect of an 80,000 crowd in the UK is enticing to both fighters. It has been estimated that ticket sales alone could generate nearly £30m, and there is then the pay-per-view slaes from both sides of the Atlantic to factor in. It would undoubtedly be the biggest money making fight the UK has ever seen.

One problem though: de la Hoya has first to get past his next opponent – Filipino Manny Pacquiao. ‘The Pac-man’, a four-weight world champion himself, is rated by Ring Magazine as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and represents a significant challenge to de la Hoya. However, as a former lightweight, the challenge of stepping up to Welterweight may well be too much, even for a fighter as determined and skilled as Pacquaio.

If de la Hoya gets past Pacquaio, then the scene will be set for a showdown with Hatton which could break attendence and pay-per-view records. The record for both is currently held by de la Hoya and Mayweather Jr. for their 2007 fight. Hatton, whilst only 30, may well only have two or three fights left in him, so he’ll be looking for the big pay days to fund his retirement.

But Hatton had better get in there quickly; with this type of money being thrown around, what price would we get on Floyd Mayweather Jr. coming out of retirement for another pop at de la Hoya?

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