7 Pounds South: Why the Other (Junior) Welterweights Are Set To Ignite The Summer

ricky hatton11.06.07 - By Taj “Yuma” Eubanks, June 10, 2007: Countless reams of paper and bottles of ink have been used and vast hours have been spent singing the praises of the oh-so talent-rich welterweight division. Many moons have passed since a collection of pugilists of this caliber has treaded the hallowed stomping grounds of men with the last names of Robinson, Leonard, Duran, and Hearns.

There is a new order, one that has galvanized and provided buoyancy to a sport desperately in need. With its flagship product, the heavyweight division, being in worse shape than the Boston Celtics on draft day, the welters are inhabited by no less than nine outstanding pugilists: Cintron, Cotto, Collazo, and Clottey; Mayweather, Mosley, and Margarito; Williams and Judah.. It is difficult to contain one’s excitement when dreaming of all the possible tasty style matchups that could result from this milieu. Thus, it is easy to forget that 7 pounds south there lies a smoldering cauldron of fisticuffs waiting to erupt like Mount Vesuvius before it buried Pompeii.

Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, also affably known as “The White Mexican” by adoring Mexican fans, is set to throw down with “El Temible” Jose Luis Castillo on June 23. Hatton is all-action-all-the-time, the type of boxer fans never regret spending hard-earned ducats to see. However, after an ill-advised trip to 147 and a less-than stellar showing against rock-solid Juan Urango, the Hitman is in desperate need of some credibility capital. Castillo, most famously (and infamously) known for his tandem of fights with the late, great Diego “Chico” Corrales and the subsequent “Weightgate” fiasco which derailed the third match, is also looking for much-needed credibility. The man that many steadfastly believe actually beat Floyd Mayweather now has to restore the shine to his own legend, to which he did a disservice with pedestrian performances in his last two bouts against Rolando Reyes and Herman Ngoudjo. Both men have a great deal to lose with another poor showing and this fact coupled with their shared “balls-to-the-wall” style will likely create a Fight of the Year candidate.

Coincidentally, exactly one week after Miguel Cotto bludgeoned Zab “Super” Judah into submission, one of the few who has survived 12 rounds with the Puerto Rican superstar is set to work his own magic. Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi is set to challenge Australia’s Lovemore “The Black Panther” N’dou for the IBF junior welterweight championship. Malignaggi, another brash, fast-talking, fast-handed Brooklynite, won over many of Cotto’s fans in his losing yet courageous effort against the welterweight division’s man of the moment. N’dou’s constant pressure juxtaposed with Malignaggi’s slick boxing style has the potential to enthrall as well, especially since the challenger’s constant pre-fight jawing has no doubt made the champion that much more determined to squeeze the magic out of “The Magic Man.”

Finally, “Vicious” Vivian Harris is slated to face England’s Junior “The Hitter” Witter later this summer for the WBC junior welterweight championship. Witter, who
yearns for the acclaim that fellow compatriot Ricky Hatton enjoys, needs a high-profile victory in order to hopefully force “The Hitman” into an all-England fracas. A win over Harris just might do the trick. Harris, no doubt, has other plans. After his much-publicized implosion that led to the loss of his WBA strap at the hands of Colombia’s Carlos Maussa (a strap later annexed by Ricky Hatton), Harris went into rebuilding mode, rattling off three straight wins. Poised to become champion again, the boxer-puncher undoubtedly has plans to turn “The Hitter” into a quitter. Witter, however, has his own plans to capture his own slice of the junior welterweight pie and will do his best to send Harris back to Brooklyn strapless and toothless.

Boxing fans need not place all of their eggs in the welterweight basket, as there is great fortune to be found right under our noses in the junior welterweight division. So grab a cold one, because it is going to be a long, hot summer.

Article posted on 11.06.2007

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