Hatton/Warren – is Ricky right to move on?

02.09.05 - By Andy Meacock: Rumours and speculation that had been circulating recently became public this week as it was announced by Ray Hatton that his son Ricky would not be promoted in the near future by Frank Warren. Hatton Snr claims that they are not legally contracted to Warren and have been dealing with the leading British promoter on a fight to fight basis for a long period of time. Hatton Snr said, "Over the last couple of years we have been offered deals by other promoters but we have always stayed with Frank because we like him."

Hatton Snr also announced that Ricky would be making the first defence of his IBF light-welterweight title against fellow titlist WBA champion, Carlos Maussa. The fight is set for November 26th in Sheffield, England at the Hallam FM Arena. Reports are suggesting that an arrangement has been made with Dennis Hobson's Fight Academy and Hatton’s own promotions company, Punch Promotions to stage the event..

The reason for the event being staged in Sheffield as opposed to Hatton’s usual patch, the MEN Arena in Manchester, is due to an exclusive fight deal the MEN Arena has with , yes you guessed it, Frank Warren.

Hatton Snr also expressed his disappointment with the behaviour of Warren saying he was, “surprised” and “frustrated”, adding that he didn’t want to get in a legal wrangle but if that’s would it took, “then so be it”.

Now Frank Warren hasn’t been silent over this issue either. A few days ago Warren’s company Sports Network issued a statement warning other promoters to stay away from Hatton or face potential legal action. The statement is below,

"It has recently come to the attention of Sports Network Limited that a number of third parties claim to be in discussions or negotiations with Punch Promotions in order to acquire the boxing services of Ricky Hatton,"

"In fact, Sports Network, through letters written by its solicitors, have already placed a number of parties on formal notice of impending legal action.

In light of the above, Sports Network hereby places all other Parties or individuals on notice of its agreement with Punch Promotions for the exclusive boxing services of Ricky Hatton for a number of further fights

Accordingly, any such approach or attempt by any such Party to discuss the boxing services of Ricky Hatton with Punch Promotions and or Ricky Hatton its/his agents or representatives would constitute an attempt to induce a breach of the Agreement and be an unlawful interference of Sports Networks rights.

To the extent that any Party fails to stop any of the Actions complained of, Sports Network will not hesitate to take all necessary action against any such Party to protect its interests arising from the Agreement."

Big words, but despite the statement above from Sports Network it does seem like the Hatton/Maussa unification in November is set.

The final insult also came this week when Ricky’s younger brother Matthew pulled out of a scheduled fight with Ross Minter, the fight was to be promoted by Sports Network.

Now without knowing all the facts involved with previous contracts and without being qualified lawyer, I can’t offer an opinion as to whether or not the move by Punch Promotions and Fight Academy is legal. That is the lawyers to decide.

What interests me is how this all became so messy. Prior to Hatton’s epic victory over Kostya Tszyu in June this year there had been signs of discontent from Hatton. A number of big showdowns with the likes of Kelson Pinto, Shamba Mitchell and Vivian Harris fell through and Hatton made his frustration public. Now had he left Warren at that stage then I would have perfectly understood.

Despite the frustrations and public threats to leave Sports Network, Hatton decided to stay. His loyalty was finally rewarded after Warren delivered Hatton with the biggest fight the division had to offer, Tszyu.

Now I thought Warren getting Hatton the Tszyu fight was Warren’s way of proving to his superstar fighter that he did have the muscle at the negotiating table to supply the big names that Ricky was craving. I actually thought that this act would be enough to persuade Hatton to remain with the Sports Network stable.

Now the question is, is Hatton right to go it alone without Sports Network ?
There’s two ways you can look at this question, ethically and from a career standpoint.

Let’s look at the ethics behind Hatton’s decision. Frank Warren guided Hatton from a very early stage in his career up until the Tszyu fight. Some would argue that Warren was over protective and delayed Hatton’s success and others would say that Warren carefully managed and nurtured Hatton to his big win in June. This of course is subjective.

My personal view on this is that whilst Warren has provided a lot for Hatton in his career, Hatton has also delivered in the ring and most importantly from Warren’s viewpoint; Hatton has continually delivered the big crowds.

So whilst I’m surprised that Hatton has taken this decision, I’m reluctant to be too critical of him ethically as I think both he and Warren have benefited from the previous business relationship.

What about Hatton’s career from this point forward?

It’s hard to say whether of not leaving Warren will help or hinder his career in future. It does look like Hatton’s managed to secure a fight in November with Carlos Maussa but I imagine Warren could have delivered that fight also as Maussa is not a huge name and therefore wouldn’t have been overly difficult to negotiate with.

Making assumptions that the fight in November does go ahead and that Hatton wins then were does it leave him. If he is a free agent then technically he can sign for anyone but who would he choose ?.

Many people feel that he should go with major US promoter Bob Arum. The logic behind this is that Arum promotes WBC light-welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather and WBO light-welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto. I disagree with this view. Mayweather, Cotto and Hatton are all young undefeated fighters with bright futures ahead, I see no way in hell that Arum would or will decide to pair them together anytime in the near future, it makes bad business sense.

Another name being aired to promote Hatton is Gary Shaw. Shaw does have some muscle when it comes to making deals but if this happens then we can forget the idea of seeing Diego Corrales move up and challenge Hatton in future.

So looking at the politics that are involved in boxing these days then it’s hard to see which other promoter could or would successfully promote Hatton. So until after the expected Maussa fight in November, it’s hard to guess what the future of Hatton has in store.

Final thought. If the world of boxing was perfect and politics didn’t exist, then I think the fight most fans would like to see at 140lps is a Hatton/Mayweather showdown. I think these two men are widely considered as the best in the division and with their individual styles it would be a mouth-watering event, here’s hoping it happens…

If you have any thoughts on the Hatton/Warren situation them please leave them in the comments box below…

Article posted on 02.09.2005

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