Sharkies's Machine: Hatton Finishes Castillo In Four

ricky hatton24.06.07 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - June 23rd, 2007 - Saturday night in Las Vegas, Ricky Hatton (43-0, 31 KO’s) entered the ring at the Thomas and Mack Center wearing a blue Mexican Sombrero; to face one of Mexico’s highly rated, former Champions, Jose Luis Castillo (55-8-1, 47 KO’s).

Castillo is best remembered for his two fights against another fan favorite, (and now legendary) Diego Corrales, who was lost to us all after a motorcycle accident took him recently. Castillo also fought Floyd Mayweather twice, beating him the first time but losing the decision, then choking in the rematch, where Floyd dominated him. Guys like Castillo and Corrales were well regarded because they took chances in the ring. They come to fight. They showed big heart in tough matches.

Whether they won or lost, fans got their moneys worth. If you like the drama, the theater of the unexpected that boxing should be, these are names you can at least expect to live up to the hype.

The veteran Castillo has fought 68 professional fights compared to Hatton’s 43. Both guys had some stellar moments in their careers and it’s not a stretch to say that Castillo, at 33 years old, is past his best days. Still, Castillo is known for being one of the toughest hombres in the sport. That he didn’t get up after being downed in the fourth round surprised many of
us. Times are changing.

The Fight:

Hatton applied relentless pressure from the opening bell, hitting and then holding long enough to minimize Castillo’s returns and constantly force Castillo to reset. In the first round, Hatton landed a shot that saw Castillo’s body go to the canvas. It was ruled a slip but it sure looked like the result of a punch. The action continued and Castillo managed to land a few shots but it was Hatton who was landing cleaner, more effective, punches. Ricky was too fast for Castillo, whose best chances were on the inside, where he could attack the body. But even on that front, Hatton did
the better work.

In the second round, Castillo was finding Hatton with some pretty good shots. Hatton looked stronger though and continued to rush into Jose Luis with pressure. Hatton was throwing two punch combinations and then holding. It was working. Castillo was losing the rounds because Hatton was dictating the pace and always landing the cleaner punches.

The third round was intense with both guys landing some good shots. The ref warned Castillo about punching low. Whenever Castillo landed a good shot, Hatton came back with something exceedingly dramatic. Ricky’s fast hands and aggressiveness proved the correct strategy against the former 135-pound Champion.

In the fourth round, both guys rushed to engage at the center of the ring. Referee Joe Cortez took a point from Castillo for a low punch. There was a light warning in the previous round but no firm warnings prior to the point deduction. I thought it was a questionable call from, “Fair but Firm” Joe Cortez. It mattered not though as Hatton managed to land a left hook around Castillo’s guard to the body, a punishing left hook to the liver that saw Castillo go down to a knee and surprisingly, remain down as Cortez counted him out.

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It was a good performance by Hatton but a poor performance by Castillo, whose history would suggest, could have continued but choose not to do so. I don’t know what was in his head at the moment or how badly the body shot hurt. Maybe Castillo felt it was enough to have earned his payday, which according the pre fight gossip, will quickly be issued to places outside J.C. Castillo’s bank account.

It was a good fight because it was intense, if only for four rounds. Hatton’s two best remembered performances were against former champions at the end of their careers. Kostya Tszyu and now, J.C. Castillo.

I’d like to see Hatton fight an unbeaten guy in his prime. A fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be an exciting match up but somehow, I doubt it will happen, unless Hatton shows that he’s past his best days after his next fight. During the post fight interview, Hatton, sporting a Ricky Fatton T-shirt, said that his four rounds against Castillo was more exciting than all the rounds Floyd Mayweather Jr. has put together in his career. Floyd may be a master boxer but his fights are rarely exciting to watch.

For all the talk of being the ‘greatest pound for pound in boxing,’ Floyd Mayweather Jr. has only fought one undefeated fighter of in his pro career and that was six years ago (in 2001) against Diego Corrales, who was 33-0, at that time. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has not beaten any other top ranked fighters who were undefeated.

The only undefeated fighter Hatton has faced was Juan Urango, who was 17-0, last January when they fought. With that in mind, Floyd vs. Hatton could be billed as, “The Battle of the Unbeatens.” Why don’t the boxing Czars match Hatton against Mayweather Jr.? Of course, there’d be many prohibitive factors like money, venue, weight, scheduling and other items that have zero
to do with any kind of legit ranking system.

Boxing feels like an exhibition sport, fully packaged by the promoters. There is no legitimate ranking system. Big name bouts are usually between a guy on his way up and a guy on his way out. Thoughtful fans have to wonder why the best fighters do not fight each other with the intent of establishing true Champions…one in each division.

Jose Luis Castillo has had trouble making weight lately and is clearly past his prime. At 33 years old, after being in so many wars, in boxing years, he’s old. This fight may salvage his personal financial problems for the moment, but it did nothing to suggest that Castillo is a top ten fighter anymore.

Why aren’t Ricky Hatton’s handlers chasing the Titles to unify? Why not go after WBC Champ, Junior Witter or IBF Champ, Lovemore N’Dou? What about Souleymane M’Baye, the WBA Champ or even WBO Champ, Ricardo Torres? But the money is probably more alluring at 147-pounds, where Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Kermit Cintron are the guys to beat.

Hatton is probably better off staying at 140; he’s a bit too small for Welterweight, as demonstrated in his debut against Luis Collazo. Hatton escaped that fight with a decision win that was questionable to many and wisely went back down to 140 afterwards.

Too often, boxing fails to provide entertaining fights on a regular basis because, thought the fights are not exactly fixed, they are very much arranged. Upsets do happen, but most times, we all know who’s going to win—the favorite. Too often, the big name fighters are matched up against guys they’re supposed to beat instead of guys likely to beat them. As a fan, I feel that the lack of legit rankings determining who fights who is killing boxing.

Recently, ‘past his prime,’ Zab Judah, fought and lost to ‘in his prime,’ Miguel Cotto in the 147-pound division. It was a battle that was entertaining to watch and the kind of fight that keeps boxing alive. Many are calling it the “fight on the year” but really, it was the same predictable type of match making. Cotto was supposed to win over Judah, who hasn’t won a fight in two years. Hatton was supposed to win over aging warhorse Castillo, and he did.

Congratulations to Ricky Hatton for adding another big name to his unbeaten resume. Thanks also to Jose Luis Castillo for being the big name guy to lend some legitimacy to it all.

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Article posted on 25.06.2007

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