Ricky Hattonís Conundrum

Ricky HattonBy George Ulrich: There seems to be a very heavy question looming for Ricky ďHitmanĒ Hatton. The question of whether to make his next fight his last seems to be whatís on everyoneís mind. Some people, such as his trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. are calling for his immediate retirement. My question to everyone of that opinion is why? Is it because he lost to a great fighter in stunning fashion? Is it because heís suffered two KO losses in his last four fights? Iíll look at these questions and more as we delve deep into what could be, or should be next for this beloved fighter.

Ricky Hatton has accomplished so much in the sport of boxing. Heís had a career that most young fighters would only dare dream of. For all that has been said of his last few fights, all in all heís had a great career to this point. Hatton only recently fell to two of the best in the world. We could ask why he lost, some would say his style doesnít match up well with someone that can throw straight punches and defend against a fighter that comes straight ahead. The problem is that Hattonís ďstyleĒ was taught to him by someone at some point. So he did the best he could with what he was taught and he did well with it, until he ran into the wall that was Mayweather Jr.

Let me remind everyone who Mayweather Jr. is. Love him or hate him heís arguably the best defensive mastermind to ever grace the squared circle. His boxing mind is second to none, and his ability to execute a fight plan is almost inhuman. So that was Hattonís first loss on the biggest stage. Thereís absolutely nothing to hold your head down about after a loss to Mayweather, after all every one of his opponents prior to Hatton suffered the same fate. His rebound fight after Mayweather made some critics question whether or not Hatton was finished. He was hurt several times late in that fight although he was in control as far as points were concerned. Hatton was only doing what he knew how to do at that point which was to come forward and swing away attempting to hold to keep from being hit. Effective aggression is defined by being effective at moving forward, pressuring your opponent and hitting without being hit back. What Hatton was doing late in that fight was naked aggression and it almost cost him a few times. After that victory Hatton knew something wasnít right, so he made a change that should have been made five years ago when his ability surpassed his trainerís. Iím not hating on Graham in any way, but Hatton was a better fighter than Graham was a trainer a long time ago.

Enter Floyd Mayweather Sr. exit Billy Graham. Like it or not Floyd Mayweather is a far superior trainer to Graham on several levels. So Hattonís next fight was against a lightly regarded light punching natural light welterweight in Paulie Malignaggi. This was a very smart match up for Hatton. Malignaggi couldnít punch hard enough to really get Hatton to back up, but perhaps just hard enough to garner some respect. Iíll also mention that Malignaggi was considered to have quick hands by some. This fight would give Hatton and Mayweather a chance to get to know each other without Hatton risking too much physically. Hatton showed some ability to learn new things. His footwork looked to be improved some, and the method he used to get inside looked to be more consistent with what youíd want him to do and that is to jab and step in at an angle. The problem was that from time to time after being hit, which happened far too much in that fight, he would revert back to his face first style that he so desperately needed to change. I know that hind sight is 20/20, but that should have been an indicator to Mayweather Sr. that Hatton hadnít quite picked up on all that he was trying to teach him. How is it that a fighter of Hattonís status doesnít keep his right hand up at all times unless heís using it to throw a punch? At that level of the game itís not a choice, itís a must. Mayweather knew it and worked on it, but until you see your fighter perform it in a fight on a grand stage you really donít know if they have it. Perhaps some more time together would have been what was really needed before taking on the likes of Manny Paquiao.

Ricky Hattonís second loss of his career came in such stunning fashion that I donít think very many of us, save Freddie Roach, really saw that coming. I was ready for a much longer stanza than that when I put up my sixty hard earned dollars to watch what turned out to be five minutes and fifty seconds of explosive one sided action. The punch that ended the fight was a punch of perfection. Fighters often imagine thatís exactly how they want a punch to land because no matter who theyíre fighting itís one that will end the night immediately and that it certainly did. Hatton started the fight on the wrong foot, both figuratively and literally. Hattonís back foot is one he never learned to fight on, he never learned to let someone get in just enough to set them up for what they wouldnít see coming. It took Paquiao nine years of working with Freddie Roach to learn to use his right hand effectively, and Hatton was supposed to learn real defense in just one fight with Mayweather Sr.? If it sounds like Iím encouraging Hatton to continue I guess that would be a correct assessment, but one with a contingent. That contingent would be a question of his motivation. If Ricky Hatton wakes up in two months and feels that fighterís hunger to fight and win at all costs then I say heís earned the right to make that decision to fight another day. The contingent would be a question to his commitment to learn something new. The reason I give for that is if heís going to get in the ring and continue to fight exactly as he has to this point then thereís no where else for him to go. Heís fought and lost on the biggest stage in boxing and unless heís willing to learn from those losses and change what heís doing wrong and employ more of what heís doing right then he needs to call it a day because the outcome will be the same if ever heís matched with that level of skill and talent again. However Iím a firm believer in Hattonís abilities and mental make up. I truly believe that if itís his desire to improve and correct whatís holding him back on that grand of a stage then he certainly has all the tools at his disposal to do so. I donít care much for Mayweatherís comments about Hatton, thatís Mayweather giving up on someone that put all his faith in him. Thereís just enough blame that Mayweather Sr. gets some here as well. He should have known that Hatton didnít have near the time it takes to put into effect what he needed to learn from a new trainer. Iím not making excuses for Hatton here, as I think Paquiao is undeniably the best p4p fighter on the planet until Mayweather Jr. fights Marquez, but Hatton was far from prepared for what Paquiao was going to throw at him. If Hatton still believes he has something to learn and more to accomplish then I say let him fight on. Let him take a couple of lower risk fights to continue what Mayweather Sr. started for him. If he shows improvement and the ability to adapt then maybe he has a shot at redemption, but if not hopefully heíll realize that itís time to stop and retire from the sport heís given so much to and that has given so much back. Itís just my opinion and Iím sticking to it.

Article posted on 07.05.2009

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