Is Mayweather-Hatton the Leonard-Duran of this generation?
06.08.07 – By Adrian Saba: Is it really Boxer vs. Brawler? Mayweather is the antipode of Hatton; not only their fighting styles are different, also their personalities. Leonard’s fulgurant style and personality was also the opposite of Duran. That’s already one similarity. Mayweather and Leonard are both pure boxers, although Mayweather is better defensively and belongs to the subcategory of slick boxers, while Leonard was a boxer-mover: the quintessence of the boxer/dancer. Duran was a complete fighter that had a predisposition to brawl, especially as he moved up weight classes.
Article posted on 07.08.2007
It is a mistake to think that Duran was a basically a crude brawler… “Manos de Piedra” was a complete and skilled fighter, and to realize that you only have to watch his lightweight fights. Hatton is a pure brawler with a terrific workrate and dynamism, and can’t really be compared to Duran because he isn’t as skilled or complete, however, just as Duran was supposed to be the brawler and bring the action in his 1980-superfight, Hatton is supposed to do the same against Mayweather..
Prime versus Prime
Leonard-Duran also involved fighters in their respective primes. This can’t be said about Hagler-Leonard, where Sugar Ray was coming back after several years retired and Hagler was out of his prime after many ring wars, or De la Hoya-Mayweather, a fight in which the Golden Boy was also some years past his best.
Why not mention a difference? Duran-Leonard was not a showdown between undefeated fighters, because of a 1972 loss of Duran against the noteworthy lightweight contender Esteban de Jesus. In Mayweather-Hatton, both are undefeated (combining a total 81-0 record, a quantity that surpasses the 66-0 of Trinidad-De la Hoya).
How were/are the fighters coming to the fight?
Duran: He was already a Lightweight legend, he had dominated the 135 pounds’ division during 7 years and was also a legitimate Welterweight contender. Leonard was not only facing a former Lightweight Champion, he was facing a contender of his own division. Duran, who had beaten former Champ Carlos Palomino, was the #3 Welterweight contender at the end of 1979. In synthesis, he was a Lightweight All Time Great who had moved up two weight classes and was challenging for the title. Duran had also beaten some ranked Light Welterweight fighters in non-title bouts during the 70s.
Leonard: His career was in the spotlight since it’s beginning due to his dazzling style, which resembled Ali, and his Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympic Games. However, Sugar was not smoke and mirrors…he climbed up the Welterweight rankings as any other fighter would, won the title after defeating Wilfredo Benitez, and was defending it. Welterweight was his first weight class (he wasn’t a multi-division champion yet) and he was not a P4P .egend: he was a young boxer constructing his legacy.
Hatton: The Hitman’s most important victories were outstanding ones against Kostya Tszyu and Jose Luis Castillo. He fought once above his natural weight class -140- and won a belt after a difficult match up against Luis Collazo, which makes him a P4P fighter. His reign at 140 hasn’t been as good as Pryor’s, Chavez’ or Tszyu’s, but it has been a decent two-year reign and he has defended the title on three occasions. While Duran was a great Lightweight Champion, Hatton is a so-so undefeated Super Lightweight Champion.
Mayweather: Floyd is still in his prime and has accomplished already a lot, clearly more than a 1980 Sugar Ray Leonard. He was a great Junior Lightweight Champion –probably the best ever in that weight division- and then collected belts at 135, 140, 147 and 154, including Lineal recognitions at 130, 135 and 147. I repeat: the best thing is that he is still in, or very near, his prime.
What will happen after Mayweather-Hatton?
The rational reaction would be the winner, Floyd or Ricky, fighting against the winner of Mosley versus Cotto. But Mayweather could re-enter into his “retirement”, so who knows. The best thing they can do is emulate Duran and Leonard, and that means keep fighting the best. Duran, after beating Leonard, fought Benitez, Cuevas, Moore, Hearns, Hagler, Barkley, etc. Leonard rematched Duran and regained his title, and then fought Hearns and Hagler.
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