Ricky Hatton vs Jose Luis Castillo

jose luis castillo22.01.07 - By Matthew Hurley: “You don’t want to be in fights that bore the shit out of everyone.” So said newly crowned IBF and IBO junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton. Obviously he was thumping his chest proudly in regards to his fistic style and his win over Juan Urango. But just as obviously it was a bit of a jab, with a wink and a nod, at the fighter he hopes to eventually face, Floyd Mayweather. In terms of styles there can be no two fighters more polar opposite than Hatton and Mayweather and Hatton has been consistently harping on that for quite some time now.

But the refreshingly honest and charming young man from Manchester, England has more pressing things on his mind now – one of those being the former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo. And even though Castillo looked very rusty in his bout against Herman Ngoudjo, Hatton would be a fool to take the former champion lightly. Particularly in light of the fact that Urango, despite Hatton’s wave-offs at the post fight presser, hurt him seriously to the body in the middle rounds.. In fact nearly every time Urango nailed Hatton to the side or the gut, the “Hitman’s” left leg lifted noticeably off the canvass and he immediately held. Castillo, whose status in the sport is so renowned that his failure to make weight in his aborted rubber-match against Diego Corrales made national sports headlines, is a body punching expert. His left hook to the right side is as quick and deceptive as Julio Ceasar Chavez’s and as powerful as Micky Ward’s.

“I know he can punch,” said Hatton with a sly smile. “But the pressure I’ll put on him will be just as tough.”

Castillo didn’t impress in his bout against Herman Ngoudjo. It was his first outing since a pedestrian performance against Rolando Reyes in February of last year and the ring rust showed. But by the same token, perhaps age and wear and tear may have been the true tell. Castillo has been in numerous tough battles, particularly against Corrales, and he’s getting older. Never discount the time that ticks on a fighter’s clock.

“The inactivity hurt him,” remarked Castillo’s manager Fernando Beltran. “We’re not happy with his performance. But he needed this. This will help him.”

Castillo’s promoter Bob Arum concurred saying, “There was a lot of rust, but that was to be expected. He’s the type of fighter that has to be motivated. A fight with Hatton will motivate him and then you’ll see the best of Castillo.”

Hatton himself wasn’t entirely pleased with his own performance. Dropping back down to the junior welterweight division after a near disastrous venture into the welterweight division against the tough and talented Luis Collazo in Boston last May the pride of Manchester sailed through the first half of the bout until Urango’s body punching made things difficult. The pain of the punches didn’t significantly change the momentum but they altered the bout and reverted Hatton into his somewhat unappealing clutch and grab style.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” Hatton said in his thick British tongue. “He was a tough one and if he keeps on fighting like that he’ll be a champion one day. I’m looking forward to fighting Castillo. That’s on me mind now. Styles make fights in the boxing game and this will be a good one because of our styles. You like a chess match watch De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. You like fighters who come to fight and will knock the shit out each other then you watch us two.”

However diminished or, perhaps, just out of sorts Hatton and Castillo were Saturday night left little doubt that a fight between the two will be a barn burner for as long as it lasts. Neither takes a backwards step and both have the fans on their minds at all times. Fortunately it was announced that the fight will take place on June 2nd at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will be Hatton’s second fight on the strip, and he has proudly proclaimed that Vegas is always where he’s wanted to fight.

“That’s where all the biggies fought,” he said before and after his victory Saturday. “When I was growing up I watched Hagler and Hearns and Leonard and me hero Roberto Duran fight all those great fights in Vegas. I want to be a part of that.”

Here’s hoping his fight against Castillo will provide the same sentiment for some up and coming fighter just getting ready to lace up the gloves.

Article posted on 23.01.2007

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