Ricky 'Hitman’ Hatton Is The Main Man (In Britain At Least)
14.08.06 – By Dan Horlock: While the heavy weight division has an unfamiliar look to it at present, with Russia and the former eastern block states dominating the traditionally American category, England’s present lack of boxing talent has pushed Ricky Hatton, 28 firmly into the limelight he may once of shared with the likes of Lennox Lewis, Chris Eubank and the now infamous Prince Naseem Hamed.
Article posted on 15.08.2006
He is not the only World Title holder to come from these shores at present, Joe Calzaghe, who so masterfully disposed of American Jeff Lacey back in March of this year, has an enormous following in his native Wales and indeed won BBC Wales Sports Personality this year. There is also IBF Light Heavyweight champion Clinton Woods and promising talents such as lightweight Amir Khan, the Olympic Silver medalist, David Haye the European Cruiserweight champion and British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch. However, none of these names have the pulling power of the ‘Hitman’ at home.
Interestingly, it was only until recently that Calzaghe, the IBF/WBO Super
Middleweight champion, even registered with the American public. Renowned in the United States as a man who had ducked every major opponent in the division until Lacy, by clinging to his title, refusing to fight outside of his native country.
The same cannot be said of the current WBA Welterweight Champion and former undefeated Light Welterweight Champion, Ricky Hatton. Known as the ‘Hitman’, he never fails to fill his adopted home, The M.E.N arena – Britain’s self proclaimed Boxing capital, with 20,000 of his adoring fans, and is one of Manchester, England’s most famous sons.
The son of a professional soccer player, Ray Hatton, he began life following in both his father’s, and indeed his grandfather’s footsteps by playing for his beloved Manchester City at junior level, aged 13. However, it soon became apparent where his greater talent lay.
He set about creating a fearsome reputation for himself in the boxing ring so much so that local parents refused to let their children fight against him – forcing Hatton to look further a field for new opponents. His repeated absences from the soccer field meant that he was soon shown the door by his team but soccer’s loss would soon be British boxing’s gain.
Turning professional in 1997, Hatton’s all-action style immediately won him numerous admirers. Eight years later his career came to fruition, as on the 5th June 2005, Hatton, in his finest hour and in front of his diehard supporters, defeated the Australian legend Kostya Tszyu and claimed the IBF Light Welterweight title.
Pleasing on the eye, Hatton defies his European roots and prefers to employ an attacking approach to the sport, similar to that of a traditional Mexican or indeed American fighter. For that reason, there is a genuine hope in Britain that with his attractive boxing style he can become a major player on the world scene that exposure in America undoubtedly brings.
And so now he has firmly turned his attention to conquering the American market, although his uncharacteristic performance on his American debut against Luis Collazo, where he struggled to adapt to the heavier weight, did not do him any favors.
41 wins, 30 Kos and no losses accompanied by arguably the most devastating left hook in the division tell its own story. Indeed, it was this experience that paid dividends against the stronger Collazo, as Hatton avoided a (what would have been critical) 12th round knock down by moving to the ropes for protection.
However, Hatton’s career is now at a juncture. With Arturo Gatti defeated and dethroned by Argentinian, Carlos Baldomir, Hatton has run out of options and big fights in the light welterweight division to win over the American public. 1 fight into a 3-fight deal with the HBO television network, Hatton needs to fight names not nobody’s for meaningless titles, in his quest to become truly recognized and appreciated globally. His father said recently, ‘We are not averse to giving up belts rather than being pushed into mandatory fights few people want to see. It is lovely and a great honor to have the belts but these days in the modern era of boxing it is big fights that the fans and the television companies want to see.’
Hatton now faces the dilemma of whether to continue to fight at 147lbs where the bigger names are or drop down to his more comfortable weight of 140. It is believed that he will do the latter and forfeit his title into the bargain. He is likely to face Juan Urango for the IBF Light Welterweight title in December for a bout rumored to take place in Atlanta, Georgia.
This move is largely being seen as strategic, as Hobson, Hatton’s promoter, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, have allegedly had several discussions about staging a headline fight between Hatton and the former Lightweight champion, Jose Luis Castillo, in April 2007.
If Hatton is allowed the opportunity to demonstrate his ability against the best there is no doubt that he will become a star but if his future opponents are in the mould of the stifling Collazo, Hatton may fall from the American Boxing radar as just another promising foreign fighter who failed to make the grade where it counts.
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