Ricky Hatton Focused On Mayweather

ricky hatton18.10.07 - Matthew Hurley: Ricky Hatton has entered into the most rigorous training camp of his career for his upcoming showdown with Floyd Mayweather on December 8th. The old boxing axiom that reads, “it’s harder to hold onto your title than win it” is appropriate because the pressure of a good performance is always on the champion.

Should he lose, the critics come out of the woodwork claiming that said fighter was never as good as he was perceived to be when he won the belt. It’s a tough lesson to learn for any high caliber prize fighter and Hatton has been down that road before.

“The Hitman” is one of those fighters who finds himself in a unique position. Because he is such a huge star in his native England and has established a fan base in the United States, the belts don’t really mean that much anymore. It’s his opponent that matters, which is why Hatton has become one of those rarefied boxers who command huge purses and whose fights become major events. But because of this he is held to a higher standard, just like his opponent Floyd Mayweather.

After he beat Kostya Tszyu in 2005 Hatton became the fighter of the year. He was the quirky gunslinger from Manchester, England who loved to fight and loved to drink Guinness and eat sausage and sing Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” in the Karaoke bars. He was an engaging personality with a quick wit and a pleasing style. Then something happened. He ballooned up between fights on all those pints and moved up in weight to the welterweight division to face Luis Collazo at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. He was lucky to win that fight and the critics pounced. Not only did the critics pounce but fans in the US started pointing fingers and complained about his clutch-and-grab style. It was a wake up call for the diminutive junior welterweight and he knew that in order to reestablish himself he needed an impressive victory over a name opponent to set up a potential mega fight with one of the superstars in boxing.

His strength coach and nutritionist Kerry Kayes regrets the preparation that went into the Collazo fight. “We only had about six weeks notice for the Collazo fight. Ricky admittedly took his foot off the pedal. He’s admitted to me he had a few things he shouldn’t have eaten.”

And probably several pints too many of his beloved Guinness. One of those “few things” that Hatton indulges in that any fighter should not, particularly when he’s straining to make weight, is fried food. Hatton loves nothing more than shoving a full English breakfast of eggs, crispy bacon and sausage down his gullet even on the morning of a weigh in. It leaves him bloated and sluggish, but Hatton was a champion and his ego got the better of him. He felt invincible and the fact remains no fighter is invincible, particularly one who abuses his body. Kayes has since banned those meals and those thick pints of Guinness and the results showed up in Hatton’s fight against Jose Luis Castillo. The speed differential between the two fighters was blatant and regardless of whether or not Castillo was a spent force Hatton did what he wanted to do and blew the former lightweight champion out in four rounds.

Now that same preparation is going into the Mayweather fight only it’s been ratcheted up a notch. “Where he is now, we’re very, very happy. We’ve really controlled his diet. We are not adding fat to make the weight at 147. For the physical side of Ricky we’ve got to add a lot of protein because we want more muscle.”

In Kayes’ estimation that strength and conditioning will allow Hatton to grind Mayweather down and get to him by the middle to late rounds. “I think Ricky will surround him,” he says. “He’ll swarm him. Mayweather is a very talented boxer but he likes to fight on his own terms. Ricky won’t allow that.”

According to Hatton he feels better than he’s ever felt and is champing at the bit to get at Mayweather. “I’ve got a nasty streak at the moment. I’ve got so much focus. There is no way he is going to keep up with my pace.”

One thing the gregarious fighter also has going for him is that Mayweather just can’t get under his skin as he did against Oscar De La Hoya. Hatton thinks Mayweather’s antics and trash talk are just silly nonsense and he refuses to get involved in chest to chest shouting matches. In fact, during the initial press conference when Mayweather got in his face Hatton couldn’t suppress his laughter.

“He said a bunch of stuff. Stuff to make himself sound tough. Prison type talk. But when has Mayweather ever actually backed that type of talk up? He’s not that kind of fighter so I just wave it off.”

With the bout looming on the horizon and Mayweather mercifully kicked off the television program “Dancing With The Stars” both fighters can focus on their training camps. Hatton is already there and is already looking taught and focused. When the fight was announced many people nodded at the idea of a big event but were also nodding in acceptance of perhaps another Mayweather tap dancing let down against a plodding fighter who simply couldn’t match his speed and defensive skills. In other words, the event itself would exceed the actual fight. But Hatton may well have the perfect swarming style to make this a very interesting battle. Hatton’s most recent victim, Castillo, achieved great success against Mayweather by applying constant pressure on the “Pretty Boy”. Hatton promises to never let his slick opponent breath. Not for a second.

He also knows that after all the sacrifice a frosty pint of Guinness will be sitting on the bar waiting for him when he’s through with Floyd Mayweather. And that may be all the incentive he needs.

Article posted on 18.10.2007

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