What will happen at Hatton’s Press Conference Tomorrow?

09.02.06 - By Grant Jeans: Tomorrow’s press conference scheduled for 10.30am at HMS Belfast in London is likely to see the announcement of WBA and IBF light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton’s next opponent. There has been much speculation on both sides of the Atlantic as to whom ‘The Hitman’ will face in his 41st professional bout but unfortunately I am none the wiser having weighed up all the rumours flying around.

However it is safe to say that it will not be Floyd Mayweather Jnr, who holds the WBC 140lbs crown as it was confirmed yesterday that he will face Zab Judah at The Thomas and Mack Center on 8th April for the latter’s IBF welterweight title.

Unbeaten Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, who holds the other main light-welterweight strap, will put his WBO title on the line against Gianluca Branco in his home country on 4th March..

Other potential foes at one time included Arturo Gatti, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. It is unlikely to be any of the aforementioned. Canadian Gatti fought and stopped Denmark’s Thomas Damgaard in the 11th round of their vacant IBA title contest at the end of last month.

Castillo won a wide unanimous decision on the judge’s scorecards at the weekend over Rolando Reyes who had filled the void after a rib injury forced Corrales to withdraw from what would have been a rubber match with Castillo. The most likely scenario is that Mexican Castillo and American Corrales will face each other for the third time as soon as a venue has been decided upon.

Recent reports state that Corrales has been stripped of the WBO lightweight belt and that Acelino Freitas, the Brazilian a former world champion at super-featherweight and lightweight, will square off with Zahir Raheem, conqueror of Erik Morales, to decide the new champion.

If true then they would also be ruled out of the equation but Raheem was quoted by another source last week as saying that he believed Freitas would fight Hatton. A lot can happen in a week, especially in the world of boxing.

Former WBA light-welterweight champion Vivian Harris and current WBA lightweight champ Juan Diaz are also in the frame. Harris lost the WBA title to Carlos Maussa in June last year and Maussa in turn surrendered the belt to Hatton in November suffering a 9th round KO after a devastating left hook from Hatton.

Harris and Diaz are more feasible than other names put forward. WBC welterweight king Carlos Baldomir, who scored a stunning, upset victory over Judah last month, is said to be Hatton’s preferred choice and that would require him to step up a division. Such a move would probably incur the wrath of Hatton’s mandatory contenders Souleymane M’baye, WBA, and Naoufel Ben Rabah, IBF. Frank Warren, who went through a bitter parting of the ways from Hatton last year after finally delivering the world title shot Hatton had craved for so long, currently manages France’s M’baye.

Other reports speculating on undefeated Hatton’s future say no TV deal has been signed but there is talk of ABC screening the Manchester warrior. Regarding a venue, Foxwood’s Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut has been mentioned but reportedly only holds roughly 3000 people. Sycuan whose Ringside Promotions organisation manage Baldomir own the casino, hence the possible reason for his name cropping up.

Ray Hatton, Father and manager of Ricky, spoke about his son’s situation earlier in the week but was understandably unable too give away too much information ahead of tomorrows media call.

Hatton said, “The opponent is in the process of signing now so there is not a great deal I can tell you. The fight is possibly going out on HBO on 13th May. That date has been left open for Ricky, which has been very good of them, but it’s not a box office show because they want to showcase him to the American public.”

As Hatton presently holds a belt of another governing body recognised by the WBA, in this case the IBF title, he falls into the category of super world champion. According to the WBA website this means he “will be obliged to make the mandatory defence of his titles in a period no longer than 18 months against the boxer recognized as the World Boxing Association Champion of the corresponding division.”

This writer’s understanding is that the IBF will also allow a greater time period for their champions to make mandatory defences should the belt holder apply for an exception to face another world champion of a governing body recognised by the IBF. This was said to be the tactic adopted by Judah to allow him to defend against Mayweather Jnr. Therefore Hatton should not be obliged to fulfil his mandatory requirements for either title having won the IBF version last June and becoming a double belt holder in November.
In this crazy world of boxing politics and alphabet titles it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction. But here is Hatton’s take on the status quo, “I know what he fought Carlos Maussa for was the WBA super title and that’s what all this controversy surrounding Souleymane M’baye is about. We see it as ridiculous because M’baye says he wants to fight for the WBA world championship and he can still do that because Ricky is the super champion.”

Hatton continued, “It leaves it open so that the WBA belt is there to fight for and whoever wins it can obviously get a shot at Ricky to become super champion. As far as I am aware you can’t go automatically into a fight with the super champion, you’ve got to be the WBA champion first before you can become super champion.”

Hatton went on to explain why the camp has taken it’s time over any official announcement and said, “It’s been taking so long because we’ve been offered that many different scenarios. We were offered bouts at, obviously, light-welterweight but also welterweight and at catch weights. Because Ricky still makes the weight very comfortably and has been offered some nice financial clashes at other weights it probably wouldn’t bother him, even though he is a light-welterweight and will be for some time, if we were to get the right fight to have it at a catch weight or move up a division. We think Ricky can operate in a higher division because of his strength and power.”

Some observers seem to be of the opinion that Hatton should have cut his ties with Warren and Sports Network earlier to go and fight abroad. They often forget that he fought his second pro bout in Madison Square Garden and later secured victories in Atlantic City and Detroit. Hatton also once fought in Oberhausen, Germany.

His Dad said, “A lot of fans forget that he fought in America in the early days but it’s been his dream to be the top the bill in a big casino or Madison Square Garden and he’s going to be the top draw in May. We know that there is a massive interest for Ricky out there and that’s why the TV companies like HBO don’t want to put him on pay per view right away because they think he is special so more people get to know him and see his all action style. I think even in America he will be known as the guy next door and people will associate with him because of his personality.”

Junior Witter could well end up fighting for the WBC light-welterweight title should it be vacated by Mayweather Jnr. Talk of an all British Hatton versus Witter clash has died down since Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu and Witter looked unimpressive in the latter halves of his last two fights against Andreas Kotelink and Colin Lynes.

However Hatton would love to see his son in the ring with Witter in the future. He said, “Obviously everyone wants to see Ricky against Junior Witter and how nice it would be if both fighters have a belt to put on the line. It would be a great fight to watch and what an advertisement for British boxing. It could be the biggest fight on these shoes for a long time, I can’t think of any other British fighters potentially unifying world titles.”

The fight that most fans seem to want is Hatton against Mayweather Jnr. The latter is considered by many to be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport today and a meeting with Hatton was on most pundits and supporters list of dream fights for 2006. Both men have won all their professional contests thus far with Hatton securing 40 wins (30 ko’s) and Mayweather Jnr 35 wins (24 ko’s). ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather Jnr will turn 29 later this month and as Hatton is still aged 27 the two should meet in their prime.

Roger Mayweather, former world champion, uncle and trainer of Floyd Jnr, told this writer that a fight between his nephew and Hatton “had to be hyped up more.”

Mayweather went on to praise Hatton’s ability. He said, “Ricky Hatton is a tough guy, he can take everything thrown at him. He can punch too and has an awkward style to fight against. He’s a pressure fighter who can wear guys down.”

But Mayweather is confident there will be only on one winner if the pair meet. He continued, “Floyd will fight Hatton at any weight, no problem. He’ll come back down to light-welterweight if necessary. Floyd is a thinking fighter and I am confident he could beat anyone out there. It would be a really big fight, but we’re not coming to England. Somewhere neutral. It would really be something in the ring but you guys have to build the fight up and make people demand it.”

When asked if his son would need to alter his style in anyway to cope with Mayweather Jnr’s slickness and ring guile Hatton replied, “I will answer that the same way as I did when asked in America. I was told that if Ricky fought Floyd Mayweather Jnr that he wouldn’t have met anyone like him. I said yeah and Floyd Mayweather wouldn’t have met anyone like Ricky Hatton.”

An excellent answer on a match up that will hopefully take place at some point in 2006. But for now we should not have too long to wait to see what the next step will be in the exciting career of Ricky Hatton.

Article posted on 09.02.2006

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