No Tszyu Rematch, So Who’s Next For Hatton?

08.08.05 - By Andy Meacock: On June 4th of this year, we witnessed the first big fight of a busy month. It was Kostya Tszyu versus Ricky Hatton in a brawl held in the MEN Arena in Manchester, England for the IBF light-welterweight title. In a well contested battle, Hatton proved to be the fresher fighter of the two and began to punish the travelling champion Tszyu in the final third of the fight. Watching rounds ten and eleven it became obvious that Tszyu was struggled to survive the relentless onslaught that Hatton was bringing. After round eleven Tszyu’s head trainer Jonny Lewis showed his fighter some sensible compassion and suggested that they call it a night. The proud champion had done his best but was no match for his younger opponent and took his trainers advice.

It was a great fight that lived up to the hype and there was no shame in Tszyu’s tender surrender. It was a passing of the touch… Since the fight Tszyu has made it public on his website that he is still considering whether or not to continue fighting after the Hatton defeat.

However, people from around his camp have recently suggested that he is interested in a Hatton rematch to avenge his loss. This speculation was quickly ruled out by Hatton’s head trainer Billy Graham. Graham said, "As far as I am concerned, a rematch is pointless because Ricky has stopped Kostya and we would be going over old ground. I am looking at the bigger picture and now it is all about building Ricky's career and his name. Mayweather is the biggest fight out there in boxing right now, it is the fight both Ricky and I want, and that is the one we want to build up to."

I’m actually quite glad that we won’t see a Hatton/Tszyu rematch because as happy as I was for Hatton to get his much deserved recognition, I was also very sad looking at a broken down legend in Kostya Tszyu. Having watched the fight a few times I see no reason why a rematch would be any different. If anything I feel that Hatton would stop Tszyu quicker in a rematch. Styles make fights and I just feel Hatton has Tszyu’s number. If Tszyu comes back I feel he should target Zab Judah at welterweight.

So who should Hatton fight next?

Hatton has made it public that he would like to get a unification bout against WBC titleholder Floyd Mayweather. Most boxing fans feel that Hatton and Mayweather are the top two at 140lps and that is a fight that must happen. It’s nice to dream of this fight but realistically I doubt this will happen just yet. Issues like the location of the fight and the HBO/Showtime conflict will take some time to negotiate. There is also a small issue of Hatton being a promotionally free agent at present. Hatton has been promoted by Frank Warren for most of his career and it is likely that repay Warren for getting him the Tszyu fight by resigning with the leading British promoter. So I feel we will have to wait for a while before seeing Hatton vs Mayweather.

Another intriguing fight for Hatton is WBO titleholder Miguel Cotto. Cotto is widely considered to be one of the next megastars in boxing. He is a very big man at 140lps and has a slick style of boxing that has seen him undefeated in his first 24 fights. Cotto seems to have the full package but questions marks over his chin have arisen recently. He fought DeMarcus Corley and was worryingly hurt early on in that fight. He soldiered on and won via a technical knockout but many wonder how his chin would hold up against the likes of Hatton, Tszyu and Mayweather, especially when you consider that Corley is a small man at light-welterweight. Hatton/Cotto cannot happen right now anyway as Cotto has signed to fight Gianluca Branco on September 24th in a fight that he is expected to win.

This only leaves one other possible unification bout against the newly crowned WBA titleholder Carlos Maussa. Maussa shocked the world by beating Vivian Harris by knockout on June 25th. In great respect to Maussa, he is not on the same level as Mayweather and Cotto and I would expect Hatton to destroy him within the first half of the fight. He is actually a former opponent of Cotto and lost to the Puerto Rican fighter by technical knockout late in December 2003. I expect that Frank Warren would be very interested in setting this fight up. The only issue regarding this possible bout is Vivian Harris claims to have a rematch clause with Maussa. Despite looking terrible in losing to Maussa, I would expect Harris to win the rematch. We will have to wait to see how this situation materialises…

Apart from the three possible fights I have just mentioned there are few other options. I would have loved to have seen Hatton face Diego Corrales but Corrales has signed to fight Jose Luis Castillo in a rematch of their brilliant and controversial bout in May.

Whilst Corrales/Castillo 2 is likely to be another great dog fight, I am disappointed that Hatton/Corrales couldn’t be made. I think Hatton/Corrales would have been a very interesting match up. Corrales is extremely tall for the lightweight division and would hold a significant reach advantage over Hatton. Hatton would still be the stronger man though and it would be interesting to see if the ‘never say die’ spirit of Corrales could be broken by Hatton’s relentless body attacks and pressure.

I think the likelihood of any of the above fights happening soon is unlikely for now. Hatton/Maussa could be a possibility but that depends on whether Harris has a water-tight rematch clause with Maussa.

There is one name who I haven’t mentioned who I think it’s time for Hatton to settle a score with, Junior Witter. A fight between these two has been rumoured for a long time but has never materialised. Junior Witter has been calling Hatton out for years and Hatton has admitted that this irritates him.

When Hatton fought Vince Phillips on April 5th 2003, Witter fought on the undercard against Jurgen Haeck. Both Hatton and Witter won impressively and Frank Warren suggested that they would meet up in a summer showdown that year. This didn’t materialise and two years on we’re still waiting.

I’m not fully sold on Junior Witter at this point in time. Whilst I think he’s a solid fighter, I do still have doubts about his ability against the top men in the division. He looked terrible against Zab Judah in 2000, admittedly he has gotten better since then and took the fight with Judah on short notice but the fact remains he was totally outclassed by a top class fighter. Witter’s best win since then was against the tough but limited Lovemore N’Dou. I don’t feel that a win over N’Dou proves that Witter is capable of competing with the best at 140lps.

I’d also like to see a Hatton/Witter fight just for the atmosphere it would bring. This fight would have the potential to be the biggest fight Britain’s seen since the likes of Eubank/Benn fought in the 1990’s. Hatton has a fanatical fan base and they really hate Witter. Anyone who watched Witter walk out to a chorus of boos and jeers in Manchester in April 2003 would appreciate this. I can only imagine what that chorus of boos would sound like now two years on!.

Like with any itch you can put up with it for so long but eventually you have to scratch it. Witter is that itch and it’s time for Hatton to start scratching…

If you’ve got any views regarding this article or any of the people mentioned in this article then please leave then in the comments section below…

Article posted on 08.08.2005

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