Mayweather Snr, Hatton: Boxing’s new odd couple

Floyd Mayweather Sr.03.09.08 - by Mark Gregory - Following the highly publicised departure of long-time trainer Billy Graham and respected strength coach Kerry Kayes from light-welterweight Ring champion Ricky Hatton’s corner, it was today announced that Floyd Mayweather Snr would be joining Hatton’s latest training camp ahead of his upcoming showdown with IBF champion Paulie Malignaggi.

On the face of it, this appears a strange choice for Hatton. Not only is Hatton not a typical Mayweather, but his personality is so different from that of Mayweather Snr that it is difficult to see how the pair can work together effectively. Whilst Hatton has built up a devoted fan-base with his down to earth, humble demeanour outside the ring, Mayweather Snr remains one of the most brash, outspoken and controversial figures in the game.. On more than one occasion he has completely alienated his son and namesake with seemingly inexplicable outbursts to the press. Indeed the ego of Mayweather Jnr – who gives himself the twin monikers ‘Pretty Boy’ and ‘Money’ – pales in comparison to that of his father.

Stylistically, Mayweather Snr and Hatton appear to be poles apart also. Whilst Mayweather Snr credits himself with helping to develop the slick defensive skills and blistering footwork of his five-weight champion son, Hatton has always prided himself on meeting his opponents head on and being prepared to ship a few punches in order to land his own. Whether the announcement that Mayweather Snr will be joining his camp signals an intention on the part of Hatton to abandon his brawling, mauling style will become clearer when he steps through the ropes to meet the slick Malignaggi in November. It would, however, be an unusual move for a fighter at this stage in their career to attempt to change their entire style and mentality. Whilst Arturo Gatti – a fighter Hatton frequently draws comparison to – prolonged his career by ‘learning’ to box from the outside more under the masterful Buddy McGirt, ultimately the transition to boxer-puncher only found limited success. Certainly there are few examples of high tempo, inside fighters like Hatton successfully changing tack after more than 40 professional fights.

On the flip side, many Hatton fans – myself included – have been calling for Hatton to return to his boxing fundamentals following a succession of largely uninspiring performances since his breakthrough win over Kostya Tyszu way back in 2005. Hatton not only had an excellent amateur career, but also demonstrated an ability to move in and out of range effectively and work off the jab in the earlier parts of his career. With the problems Hatton had with cuts early in his career, the ability to keep out of range and not take too many punches saved him on more than one occasion, notably against Jon Thaxton in a British title fight where Hatton found himself with a truly awful cut very early in the fight. Against the ageing but still dangerous Vince Phillips and Ben Tackie, Hatton also adopted a more cautious approach and boxed beautifully on his way to shut-out decisions in both fights. The success that Hatton had in mauling his way to a stoppage win over Tyszu has had a huge impact upon his strategy in subsequent fights, a strategy which saw him scrape a wafer thin decision against slick southpaw Luis Collazo, and ultimately given a brutal boxing lesson by the man whose father will now stand in his corner, Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

So perhaps the introduction of Mayweather Snr, strange as it appears, could bear real fruit for Hatton as he looks to reignite a stalling career and regain his pound for pound status. How Hatton responds to the no-nonsense Mayweather Snr will be interesting, as will Mayweather’s reaction to Hatton’s notorious lack of dedication between fights. If nothing else, Floyd Snr will breathe much needed new life into a camp that appeared to have gone past its sell by date. If Mayweather can get Hatton to keep himself in shape between fights, teach him one or two new tricks in the gym, and – perhaps most importantly – get him to remember how to use his decent boxing fundamentals, then we may well see a rejuvenated Ricky Hatton come November. If, however, the personalities fail to gel or if either man is too set in their ways to make the necessary adaptations, Paulie Malignaggi will be rubbing his hands in anticipation of scoring the biggest win of his career.

Article posted on 04.09.2008

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