Matthew Hurley: According to WBC junior welterweight champion Junior Witter he is willing to take short money in order to get Ricky Hatton in the ring on May 24th. Hatton and his team are still trying to iron out the details of his return to the ring in his native Manchester but problems have arisen with HBO. Because the network only has so many open slots for pay-per-view events they cannot guarantee full financial backing for the fight. HBO is currently committed to the proposed Shane Mosley – Zab Judah fight the following weekend. (According to boxrec.com that fight is still scheduled for May 31st..)
Witter, who has been calling Hatton out for years, believes that with his title belt on the line a cross town bout between the two in Manchester could turn into a huge event. Under the rules of the WBC because Witter is the reigning champion he is entitled to a seventy percent share should the fight go to a purse bid. However, Witter says that he would be willing to forgo his percentage and take thirty percent just to get Hatton in the ring.
“I believe that is the only way I could ever persuade Ricky to fight me,” Witter told the Sporting Life. “He talks about a grand homecoming to thank his fans, but why doesn’t he give them what they really want, which is a fight with me?”
Witter’s scheduled March 22nd title defense against Demetrius Hopkins at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in California is now in jeopardy because of a split in the Hopkins camp. Witter’s promoter Mick Hennessy is still trying to get Hopkins to commit to the date but should the fight fall apart he is currently looking at alternative opponents including IBF junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. Still, whatever happens in March will not preclude Witter from fighting in May. Hennessy says that Hatton and his people have refused to accept an overture from Witter and his camp.
“If Ricky talks about giving his fans a special homecoming then Junior is the only opponent who fits the bill. It is such a shame that they seem to want to avoid what would be one of the biggest all-British fights in generations.”
For his part Hatton has waved off Witter’s challenges in the past, saying that Witter’s constant bad-mouthing of him in the press has become so distasteful that he simply wants nothing to do with him. However, Witter’s near incessant harping about a fight with Hatton is what has brought a long simmering rivalry to a boil. Hatton has said that he would consider the bout for the end of the year but not for his return bout. For now if his return remains on schedule for May 24th his opponent looks to be Juan Lazcano.