Ricky Hatton vs. Floyd Mayweather (and Joe Cortez) In Perspective
19.12.07 - By Jim Dorney: Having seen the Hatton-Mayweather fight a number of times now, I keep coming away with the same feeling - That whilst Mayweather can't be blamed for this, Hatton was hindered by referee Joe Cortez at almost every turn.
Article posted on 19.12.2007
I can imagine after reading this first sentence, a lot of fans on ESB are already scrolling to the bottom of this article getting ready to post a comment about what a piece of biased, pro-Brit rubbish this article is, but hear me out.
In the first round, Hatton came out quickly, as he usually does. Not long into the round, the fighters got into a clinch, which was forced by Mayweather. Referee Joe Cortez split them up almost immediately, and for a moment I thought I could see the cogs start to whirr in Mayweather's head - 'If we clinch, I get a breather'...Later on in the round, Mayweather was caught by a half-jab half hook, which rocked him back to the ropes. Almost immediately afterwards, as Hatton bored in to take advantage, Cortez split them up as Mayweather held in close.
Mayweather looked uncomfortable in those early rounds due to Hatton forcing him to work at a quicker pace than he's accustomed to. Hatton had his best rounds in those early rounds, but his frustration with Cortez was already beginning to show.
Hatton is a pressure fighter, and as such often wins fights by wearing out & outworking his opponents on the inside. Mayweather, to his credit showed a lot of skill when the two did fight on the inside, but I really believe that Cortez gave Mayweather a serious advantage by separating them both so quickly, for two reasons. Firstly, he largely prevented Hatton from fighting on the inside, which is his natural style. Secondly, by preventing inside fighting in the main, he forced Hatton to attack from the outside. Floyd had a 7-inch reach advantage over Ricky - and he knew how to use it.
What amazed me was when they did clinch, Hatton seemed to get told off more by Cortez than Mayweather did, which is ridiculous, because Mayweather initiated the clinches far more.
In the sixth round, Cortex took a point from Hatton for hitting on the back of the head. In my opinion Mayweather milked this a little by ducking way down under the ropes to accentuate the move (isn't it illegal to turn your back on an opponent anyway?)
That this was an actual foul I don't dispute. What does irk me, however, is that it came without a prior warning (at least I didn't notice one). Mayweather continually used his forearm & elbow against Hatton's head throughout the clinches. Cortez warned Mayweather about this a number of times, yet didn't take a point off. Somehow the 'I'm firm but I'm fair' tagline Cortez uses was ringing less & less true by the second.
After the point deduction, Hatton was visibly frustrated with the referee, and it was from this point onwards that the fight started to go downhill for him. I personally think he got so frustrated with Cortez that he gave up his gameplan (which he didn't follow as strongly as he probably could have anyway - more on that later) and, if you'll pardon the pun, went hell for leather.
What I don't deny is that Hatton wasn't winning the fight by this point in the sixth. I'm not saying that with a referee that allowed him to fight in close without breaking he would have been winning - but it's certainly more likely.
What I AM saying is that I believe Hatton got unfair treatment from Cortez, who clearly favored Mayweather's style, in my opinion. I'm not even saying it was the most ridiculously biased refereeing seen in recent years (it would be hard to top Robin Reid vs. Sven Ottke when the ref actually gave Reid a telling off for hitting Ottke legitimately! - Funnily enough, another British fighter on the receiving end...), but it was a huge occasion & for me it spoiled the fight & left me wondering what might have been.
I stress once again that Floyd Mayweather was not to blame for this, and boxed a great fight.
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