Why Hatton vs Mayweather should be in the UK

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04.07.05 - By Barry Green: With the arguable exception of a Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright fight, Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather is the best match-up in boxing. The major stumbling block if this fight is to happen appears to be the venue: USA or UK? On one hand, American fans argue that Hatton only fights in his hometown of Manchester and a champ can’t call himself thus unless he defends his crown in what is widely regarded as the ‘home’ of world boxing. While British fans counterpoint with the fact that Hatton is the real 140 pound king, earning this title as “The Man who beat The Man” so therefore is fully entitled to his pick. I agree with the UK camp here, and not just because I’m a candy-ass Limey myself, solely for the reason that the sweet science is, after all, a global sport and not merely something that the USA has carte blanche least it shouldn’t be anyway. Here’s why...

Boxing history is strewn with American fighters getting their own way most of the time when challenging and defended world titles. The original ‘Hitman’, Thomas Hearns, annexed the first of his many world titles by almost decapitating Pipino Cuevas in his hometown of Detriot in 1980, no one really bat an eyelid that he also defended it in the same city just a few months later. It didn’t really matter as everybody knew how good he was, regardless of where the fight took place. The same applies to Aaron Pryor and Cincinnati. Pryor was, in this writer’s book, the best 140 pounder there ever was but again fans and experts alike didn’t really care where his fights took place, the general consensus being that he too was exceptional. But as soon as talk arises that Hatton might do the same he’s called a ‘homebody’.

This unfair moniker is attributed to many non American champions, including one of the original champs at light welterweight: the oft seen Duilio Loi. The Italian, a recent inductee into the Boxing Hall of Fame at Canastota, was heavily criticised merely because he fought most of his bouts in his native Italy. Fair point I suppose but if Loi’s a ‘homer’ then so was Sugar Ray Leonard, who fought just once outside his native county- and guess what- he lost!

It is surely about time that American fighters proved their worth by going into somebody else’s back yard for a change, ala Marvin Hagler and even the much maligned John Tate did a quarter of a century ago. It can be done- if a fighter is good enough and has the experience and enough moxy to do so. Maybe Mayweather is afraid of a repeat of the brutal scenes that followed Hagler’s brutal 3rd round TKO of Alan Minter? That alcohol-fuelled disgrace was an all-time low for British boxing, but that was a complete one-off that took place when soccer hooliganism was at its height and such violence spilled over into the boxing arena. Times have changed and this will not happen again. Does he fear a bad decision against the ‘away‘ fighter,
in what is now known in some boxing circles as “doing a Sturm.”?

Perhaps, but Britain‘s record in giving a foreigner a fair crack is second to none (I once remember Orlando Canizales receiving a hometown decision in his favour despite looking a clear loser in his IBF Bantamweight fight with Billy Hardy. The thing was, it was in Hardy’s hometown!!!) In truth, I think Floyd, as well as other US boxers, is too used to having his own way and fighting before his own people. After all, would Leonard would have been 2 and 1 against Roberto Duran if a rubber match took place in Panama? Possibly not, but we never got to know.

At this moment in time I am of the opinion that Mayweather would probably win this fight, as he is more advanced in his career. In academia terms Floyd has recently graduated with a Master’s degree, while Hatton is waiting for his grade following successful exams at Bachelor’s level- A 1st class or 2:1 is likely. Hatton needs a couple of fights before he takes on arguably boxing's best pound-for-pound champion. A much-mooted meeting with Diego Corrales would whet the appetite and one that the naturally heavier Hatton would emerge victorious in my (Bummy Davis) eyes. Meanwhile, Pretty Boy Floyd may be tempted to jump up to 147 to take on Zab Judah. If so, then all talk of the fight (as well as this article) can be labelled redundant and thrown in the bin.

It is my conclusion that Mayweather-Hatton should take place in about 18 months time, after each secures one or two easy paydays at Madison Square Garden or the like; where Hatton can finally be displayed in the flesh for the enjoyment of American fight fans. A ‘Terry Daniels’ type opponent that Joe Frazier enjoyed after his Fight of the Century victory over Ali would be ideal. Carlos Maussa anyone? I actually feel most places in the US would be neutral anyway, as thousands of Hatton fans would travel world over to see their hero, such is his massive popularity back home. However, three major talking points for the venue definitely go in his favour: 1. He is the bigger box-office attraction, 2. He is the legitimate title holder, 3. I personally want the chance to see someone of his calibre in the flesh and it could be the only chance I ever have goddamn it!!!!

The third point is obviously blessed with subjectivity and bias but I argue that the last time us fight fans across the Atlantic witnessed a real pound-for-pound American champion risk his title in the UK was 20 years ago when Don Curry destroyed Colin Jones in four rounds. We deserve to look at an even greater fighter in Mayweather too. In a recent interview with Ring magazine, Carlos Palomino recently stated that his favourite fans in the world were the British, and that was despite hammering our two best welterweights of the 1970s- John H. Stracey and Dave ‘Boy‘ Green. We love our boxing over here and the visit of such a wonderful talent as Floyd would be greatly appreciated. There is lots of truth in what Frank Warren says about boxing “being second in popularity only to football (soccer) in Britain.“ It really is front page news over here when a big fight is on and it has just been announced that ITV (one of our terrestrial channels) is bringing back boxing for the masses later this month when Amir Khan makes his debut on a bill that also features the
Matt Skelton-Danny Williams clash.

It really is about time American champions risked their titles overseas after calling the shots for over 100 years. So let’s get the Hitman vs Pretty Boy on- and in the UK...with a rematch clause for Madison Square Garden written into the contract to please both parties. See, I’m not all bad.

Article posted on 04.07.2005

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