Leave Joe Cortez alone – Mayweather won fair and square

By Jason Peck: I’ve heard a lot of accusations lately that bad decisions by referee Joe Cortez made Ricky Hatton lost his fight against Floyd Mayweather. Some of it even comes straight from Hatton’s own mouth. And I do agree – the deck was stacked against Hatton from the opening bell. But it was Hatton who handicapped himself..

He chose to fight in his worst weight class against a fighter whose style was well suited to take beat him anyway. That’s a hell of a lot for any fighter to overcome. Cortez had nothing to do with it, unless he refereed the contract signing.

Sure, Cortez got aggressive. That’s what happens when you get a guy who avoids getting hit in the same ring with somebody who doesn’t care. Hatton lost because of details that extended down to the very basics.

A friend and I predicted a late-round KO victory for Mayweather almost immediately after the two first signed. Neither one of us is a Nostrodamus by any means, but the prediction pretty much panned out for the same reasons that made us call it in the first place.

To whit, consider these facts:

1). Ricky Hatton was NOT a welterweight: Hatton did win the welterweight title from Luis Collazo, but many questioned that decision, and the fight itself was hardly worth bragging about. He promised Collazo a rematch, then wisely moved back to junior-welter.

As I’ve written before, there’s nothing wrong with fighting at a single weight class. Some people just don’t have the body type for weight shifting, and Hatton is one of those people. The only direction his weight can go is down, and who knows – maybe he could be a lightweight if he cut back on the Guinness.

And yet Hatton soon fights as a welterweight again against a far better fighter than Collazo. Basically, trainer Billy Graham’s strategy was to beat a welterweight champion, but keep Hatton as a junior welterweight.

No problem!

2). Mayweather was the faster fighter: Nobody really denied this one, not even Hatton’s most die-hard contingent. But this speed gap becomes deadlier still when one takes this next, crucial point into account –

3). Mayweather had a 7-INCH reach advantage: Which comes in handy, should one want to fight on the outside.

4). Hatton’s defense was still kind of spotty: Geez, as if the reach advantage and speed wasn’t enough for Mayweather to sink his teeth into, now we have this.

5). Hatton doesn’t have one-punch power: And neither does Mayweather, the detractor will hastily point out. But a one-punch KO was Hatton’s best shot of winning, and too many fans thought this long shot would happen.

Hatton’s one-shot KO of Jose Luis Castillo implied a single blow could end the fight at any time. How exciting, it’s no wonder HBO replayed it so much.

That victory was an anomaly, however. Hatton’s a pressure fighter; just about every other KO victory he ever had resulted from a barrage of punches, not a single blow. Knocking Mayweather out meant hitting him many times over. Which is no small feat, given all of the above.

* * *

Yes, I rooted for Ricky. Any accusations that I’m kissing Mayweather’s backside should stay where they are. I just took a rational look at the fight. Strange as this may seem to many Hatton fans, a mass hatred for Floyd has never affected the outcome of his bouts. If it did, Arturo Gatti would be holding several world titles.

Hopefully, this loss will send a clear signal to Hatton that he must follow the example of his predecessor Kostya Tszyu, and settle for dominating the junior welterweight division. That’s hardly a bad thing – at 140 he has more opportunities than most could keep track of.

Junior Witter wanted a piece of him. So did Paul Malinaggi, Manny Pacquiao, and virtually every major name within 20 pounds of 140. And he’d have a much better chance of winning them.

I can tell you for sure who won’t referee those fights…

Article posted on 14.02.2008

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