by James Slater: Both Ricky Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi won last night, but it could be argued that neither guy has ever been hit quite as much as they are being caught nowadays. Hatton has never been a defensive master, and against Juan Lazcano he was never going to turn into one. But Malignaggi, at least in the early days of his career, was a tough guy to hit cleanly.. Last night, however, in his rematch with Lovemore N’dou, “The Magic Man” appeared easier to hit than ever before. The question is, now that both fighters have seemingly lost at least a second or so in terms of speed, who will win when Hatton and Malignaggi meet later this year?
The two men will reportedly clash in November, with either Madison Square Garden or Las Vegas almost certainly being the only possible venues for the intriguing bout. And one thing can definitely be counted on: that of the fight being a sell-out occasion. Both fighters are great at selling tickets, Hatton especially. And as such the November showdown will have no trouble at all in attracting one helluva live audience.
Not only that, but the fight is a pretty tough one to call. Yes, both guys have seen better days, but the New Yorker and the Mancunian remain two of the most determined and authentically tough fighters in the sport today. Malignaggi, with his flashy style, attention to image, lack of punch-power and penchant for effeminate hairstyles (the less said about last night’s hairdo and its effect on his performance the better!) may not seem at first glance like a tough guy – but he most certainly is. As anyone who saw his gutsy effort against the mighty Miguel Cotto can attest.
Hatton, too, is a genuine warrior. Past the sublime peak that saw him out-tough and batter all-time great Kostya Tszyu he may be, but “The Hitman” will not fold easily in any fight. As such, Ricky will not be looking at the possibility of being hurt against the admittedly light hitting “Magic Man.” Out-boxed Hatton may be in November, but stopped? No way.
But who will emerge with the IBF 140 pound title when the two fighters collide?
It’s a good match-up, without a doubt. Hatton-Malignaggi is also a tough one to pick at that. The two men’s style should mesh well enough to provide a good, crowd-pleasing fight. And the bout will also likely go the full scheduled distance. Indeed, a Hatton body shot KO aside, what we are talking about here is an engrossing and extremely watchable 12-rounder.
Who will win? For what it’s worth, and by going by nothing more than both fighter’s performances last night in Manchester, this writer’s money says Hatton will be the IBF light-welterweight champion once again before the end of the year!