To this day, if you speak to a big Ricky Hatton fan, chances are pretty big they will tell you the following – “Joe Cortez cost Ricky the fight with Floyd Mayweather,” they say, or words to that effect. “Hatton was not allowed to fight his fight on the inside, Cortez favoured Floyd and kept breaking them up,” they insist.
It’s not just passionate Hatton fans who make these claims; some U.S fans agree. And of course, Hatton himself, while admitting Mayweather was a great fighter, remains adamant to this day that Cortez failed to “give me a fair crack of the whip.” Hatton was doing quite well in the fight, for the first six rounds or so at least, before Mayweather began getting to him. But did Cortez interfere during the fight; was he “favouring Floyd?”
Hatton recently spoke about the 2007 fight he lost by tenth-round KO, recalling it for BT Sport. And Hatton says he “smelt a rat that night with the referee.”
“I did give him a good run for his money,” Hatton said of Mayweather. “I feel a little bit cheated to be honest with you, because I felt that I wasn’t going to outbox him and I wasn’t going to out-speed him. But if I was allowed to get close I would definitely throw more punches than him. But I never got the opportunity and that’s the thing that will always eat away at me – the referee neger gave me the opportunity. The one person that was allowed to get stuck in and bully him and was allowed to fight close was Marcos Maidana and he pushed him really close. [Jose Luis] Castillo was allowed to get close and a lot of people thought Castillo won. So I smelt a rat that night with the referee and I don’t think I was given a fair crack of the whip.”
Would Hatton have done better in the fight had another third man being working the bout? Hatton’s army say yes, other fans say not at all; that Mayweather was always going to be too good for “The Hitman.”
But what does Cortez say about the matter?
Joe was kind enough to speak about the fight with this writer a while back, and the now retired referee was and is firm in stating how he showed Mayweather zero favoritism.
“I did not favor Floyd Mayweather,” Cortez said. “Some people, they have me as being under his wing, or in his pocket. But if I was a Floyd Mayweather guy, why would I train Conor McGregor to beat Mayweather? We worked together for weeks ahead of that (2017) fight. If I was Floyd’s guy, why would I assist someone in an effort to beat him? Ricky Hatton is a great fighter, but he did have a rough style, where he would clinch a lot and fight rough, and those things are not permitted in the rules of boxing. I went in there to do my job. His fans, they were upset, and they had to blame someone for him losing so they said let’s blame Joe Cortez.”
Cortez added how “it was apparent from round-one that Mayweather was superior,” and that he as referee “tried to be as fair as possible.”
There’s no doubt many, many fans – and Hatton himself – will never buy this. The “Cortez screwed Hatton” myth is one that will likely never go away.