Ricky Hatton – The Hitman’s Boxing Legacy: Thoughts from the brain
by Martin 'The Brain' Potter of the Boxing Clever podcast - In news reports today it appears that one of Britain’s most popular ever fighters, Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, has finally acknowledged that he will never again lace up gloves and step inside the squared circle as a professional combatant. Although greatly loved by fans for his character as well as his in-ring exploits, a quick trawl through Eastside Boxing’s past articles and blogs reveals that ‘The Hitman’ is seen as anything from one of the finest fighters to ever emerge from the UK to an overrated, glorified club fighter. Now he has finally ‘hung ‘em up’, I attempt to analyse the reality of Ricky’s achievements.
Article posted on 14.04.2011
Firstly I would like to categorically debunk the much perpetrated myth (mainly by Americans, sorry to say) that Hatton was a glorified pub brawler who would have sunk without trace had he been brought up on the other side of the pond (although given his current size, if you dropped him in the water now he probably would sink without trace…). Anyone who views Hatton as a ‘club fighter’, in my opinion, knows nothing about boxing. Why? Let’s start by looking at Hatton’s record and achievements in the ring. Ricky took his first major world title when he scalped Kostya Tszyu, a man ranked by many as one of the top five pound for pound fighters in the world at the time and a legend in his adopted homeland of Australia. Club fighters don’t beat legends. Even if Hatton had achieved nothing more after the Tszyu fight, he wouldn’t deserve the derisory ‘club fighter’ tag.
Yet Hatton did achieve more, winning another world title in his next fight (against Carlos Maussa) and also taking the ring magazine belt and fighter of the year awards. The Hitman, eager to test himself further, then went to the States, where many claimed he would flounder, and beat a well schooled tricky American – Luis Collazo – in a higher weight division to become a two weight world champion. Although not a convincing win by any means, Hatton dug deep, showed his mettle and ground out the victory, his resilience and determination in a tough fight a demonstration of what separates champions from mere contenders.
Moving back down to light-welter, Hatton defeated another reigning world champion, Juan Urango, to win his fourth world belt in four fights and then he took out Mexican tough guy Jose Luis Castillo with a picture perfect body shot. That win set up the ‘undefeated’ showdown with pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather and even as an ardent Hatton fan, I acknowledge he was simply out of his depth and outclassed by ‘Money’. But almost every fighter Floyd faces finds themselves in that position and Ricky Hatton deserves credit for again stepping up in weight and fighting in Floyd’s back yard. Pretty meaningless comeback wins followed for Ricky before he was separated from his senses by the mighty Manny Pacquiao, but Ricky as a fighter should be remembered for his run of world title wins, as opposed to defeats by the two greatest fighters of his generation.
Ricky Hatton did have his faults as a fighter without a doubt (which boxer doesn’t?), grappling too much later in his career, neglecting his boxing skills and having a tendency to use somewhat dubious tactics. Yet Hatton at his best was an excellent pressure fighter with an indomitable will to win, quicker hands that many think and much under appreciated boxing skills (check out the Ben Tackie fight). You don’t beat a succession of reigning, future or former world champions if you are the chump that many wrongly claim Ricky to be.
In summary I wouldn’t claim that Hatton was the greatest fighter ever to come from the UK, or even the best fighter from these shores in recent years – Calzaghe, Lewis and Prince Naseem Hamed would all rank above Ricky in my opinion – but he was a very good fighter, a worthy world champion and a great asset to the sport of boxing. If you still doubt Ricky’s ability, take a look at the current crop of light-welterweights, then watch Hatton at his peak and ask yourself this; could Khan, Bradley or Maidana really beat the ‘glorified club fighter’ that took out Kostya Tzyu? Thought not.
To hear more opinions, inane babble and poor attempts at humor from ‘The Brain’, listen to the Boxing Clever podcast, available at www.boxingclever.libsyn.con or on iTunes. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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