Mayweather Hatton: Ricky Hatton Hopes Cortez Lets Him Fight On The Inside

02.12.07 - by Matthew Hurley: While Joe “Fair But Firm” Cortez has established himself as one of the more well known referees in the sport of boxing, he is not immune to criticism. Many fans and media scribes feel that Cortez often inserts himself too much into fights that he should allow to play out, particularly when the boxers are trading punches on the inside..

Cortez, who has refereed nearly two hundred title bouts, will be the third man in the ring on December 8th for the WBC welterweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton. Although Hatton is fine with Cortez’s appointment, he was the referee for Hatton’s last bout against Jose Luis Castillo, he hopes the veteran will allow him to fight on the inside.

“It’s a work of art, being able to fight up close,” Hatton told collected media in Las Vegas as he begins his final preparations for the biggest fight of his career. “I don’t hold, I just work on the inside. Me and Castillo weren’t holding, we were educated inside fighters. It was toe-to-to, close-quartered boxing, which is as big a talent as Floyd running away and winning at a distance.”

In actuality Hatton, in one sentence, expressed the criticisms leveled at both fighters. Ricky, whether he cares to admit it or not, does hold and hit, while Floyd, for all his yammering on about being the greatest fighter of all time, does evade to the point of outright retreat. It will be up to Cortez to make sure that neither fighter turns this bout into an ugly affair – which is a distinct possibility. There’s a very real chance this fight could go one of two ways. One, a boxing clinic put on by Floyd, evading and possibly cutting up his fair skinned opponent or, two, Hatton dragging the “Pretty Boy” into a messy, ugly inside bout, with a lot of laying on the ropes. Cortez will have to find a proper medium between those two very likely scenarios to make this a pleasing bout to watch. Or, collective fingers crossed, we end up with one of those fights that exceed expectations. And that’s rare.

“If either of us is holding,” Hatton says, “break us. Don’t break us the minute we get to close quarters. I think Floyd wants to get it into the referee’s mind that I’m a dirty fighter. I just hope Cortez is strong enough (that) if we’re in close, he lets us fight.”

As for his thoughts on Mayweather? After spending sixty grueling minutes on the body belt (an over overstuffed body suit that trainer Billy Graham wears in the ring) Hatton, huffing and puffing and sprouting abrasions on his pale face from sparring was adamant. “He thinks he just has to show up to win. He’s in for a reality shock.”

Mayweather, meanwhile, has no hesitant feelings about Cortez. “I just keep my composure and do what I’ve done throughout my career. Win”

As for his thoughts on Hatton, Mayweather said, “Am I worried about Ricky Hatton? That little midget? He’s a kid trying to become a superstar. I’m a mega superstar. Please.”

Article posted on 02.12.2007

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