Ricky Hatton - No Matter How He wins, His Fans Will Go Home Happy

hatton-castillo 21.06.07 - By James Slater: Ricky Hatton has a phenomenal fan base. Quite simply, his loyal followers adore him. How else can one explain how happy they are even when “The Hitman” is chugging his way through a tediously boring hit-and-hold type of fight? And, as we all know, this has been a spectacle Hatton has been guilty of putting on just lately. Certainly, his last fight, with Juan Urango, was such an affair. Not that you would’ve known it from the behaviour of Ricky’s supporters. There he was, stinking up the Paris, Las Vegas joint, and his fans were whooping it up and enjoying themselves as though a boxing classic was going on in front of their eyes. It’s a fact, no matter how Ricky wins, just as long as he wins, his admires go home more than content.

Now, no-one is begrudging Hatton his popularity. He is a genuine and great kind of guy. But he has fallen off somewhat in terms of crowd-pleasing fights just lately, hasn’t he? His crowd are still pleased, however. An that’s the point, Ricky simply cannot fail to give them what they want, as long as his hand is raised at the end of the contest - whatever kind of contest, excitement-wise, it has been. Maybe it’s because a whole lot of Ricky’s fans know him reasonably well outside the ring. After all, Ricky is a very approachable and friendly person. His head is well and truly on his shoulders, as are his feet on the ground. Indeed, many of his fans have had a drink( or ten) with him..

Hmmm, drink? Maybe that’s another one of the reasons his fans have such a great time at his fights. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying oneself, obviously. But maybe the copious amounts of booze partaken by Ricky’s horde before the first bell is the overwhelming reason for their joviality. You tell me, did the majority of Hatton’s supporters at the Urango fight really
know what they were watching? There was ne’er a boo heard from a single “Hitman” fan - despite the awfulness of the clutch-a-thon going on in mid-ring. What’s more, afterwards Ricky himself said how he knew the fight was, “Far fro boring.”

What was it some other, perhaps more informed, person said - Hatton had turned into a mini John Ruiz? The comparison wasn’ ta foolish one. Ricky, though, due to his overwhelmingly loyal fans, can get away with becoming just that. Even more amazingly is the fact that some experts, especially in Britain, continue to refer to Hatton as one of the game’s most exciting fighters. Maybe in the past, but surely not now?

Even his crowning moment, against Kostya Tszyu, was not a great fight. A great OCCASION, no doubt. But even here, too, there was more than an acceptable amount of holding from the man from Manchester. You have to go back quite some way, back to around the time of his fights with Michael Stewart and Ray Oliveria in 2004, to point out a genuinely thrilling Ricky Hatton fight. Then, as a contender, Hatton was a fighter to watch if you wanted superior action. Now, though, with his newly adopted tactics - tactics that permit him to both grab a breather and survive his higher class of opponent’s best punches - Ricky has become, quite unbelievably, a boring fighter.

I know such talk will be classed as almost blasphemous to Ricky’s doting admirers. They will no doubt be offended at what I’ve written here. And, to be fair, Ricky may well turn his fighting approach back around. He has, after all, only given us a small handful of dull fights. And, of course, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with any fighter changing his style, mid-career, so that he can prolong his fighting days due to not having taken as much punishment as he once did - which is what I’m sure Ricky would say he has done, and that he is simply fighting smart, as opposed to fighting boring. But if the trend continues, especially on Saturday against Castillo, Hatton’s rep, at least to eyes not belonging to his drinking buddy fans from
the U.K, will be seriously compromised.

Hopefully, Ricky will make this article out to be nothing but a load of nonsense on Saturday. If he goes out and fights like we all know he can against his warrior of an opponent from Mexico, “The Hitman” will make me out a liar. With any other person’s grumbling that he is a boring fighter also pretty much erased with a stellar performance in a thrilling fight, Ricky will be back on top of his game. I hope he can re-ignite the fire with a clutch-free war with Castillo. I fear another Urango-like performance is what we’ll get instead, though. Again, I hope I’m proven wrong.

Reportedly, there are over 8,000 Hatton fans coming to Las Vegas. Therefore the atmosphere at The Thomas and Mack centre will be quite something. As such, however he wins, just as long as he does so, Ricky’s vocal fans will drown out any negatives from the bout.

Still, here’s hoping there are none that need drowning out. Come on Ricky, give us what we know you can !

Article posted on 21.06.2007

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