Exclusive Interview With Ronnie Shields – “Ricky Hatton’s Had A Good, Long Career – But Now It’s Time To Call It Quits”

30.05.08 – by James Slater: Expert trainer Ronnie Shields was the main man in Juan Lazcano’s corner last Saturday, as the 33-year-old Lazcano battled Manchester’s Ricky Hatton. Now, almost a week after the fight, this writer was fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Shields and ask him what he thought of the fight – his opinion of the referee’s handling of the fight, if Hatton was really on the verge of being KO’d in that 10th round, what Hatton should do now and what Juan Lazcano should do now.

Here is what Ronnie had to say over the phone today (May 30th)..

James Slater: Firstly, Ronnie, one week later, what is your opinion of last Saturday’s big fight?

Ronnie Shields: I think it was a very competitive fight. It was a fight that definitely gave the fans their money’s worth. Juan Lazcano did not come to lay down at all. I think Juan could’ve done better in the fight – he had Ricky really hurt in the 8th round, but he didn’t follow-up as well as he could have. But I’m so proud of Juan Lazcano, he gave a much better fight than many people said he would.

J.S: What was your opinion of the referee’s handling of the fight?

R.S: I think he did a really good job until the 10th round. That thing with the loose lace on Ricky’s shoe was detrimental to Juan and his chances of getting a stoppage, as it gave Ricky a minute or so in the corner to take a rest. I know that shoes should always be taped before a fight. But that’s boxing, you know. But up until that point I think the referee did a good job.

J.S: Are some people exaggerating when they say Juan was robbed of a KO? Was Ricky that badly hurt?

R.S: We’ll never know. We’ll never be able to answer that question. Juan did hurt him, but after that round he really had nothing left – he was out of gas in the last two rounds. I don’t want to make any excuses, I just don’t know [if Juan was deprived of a stoppage]. I do know this, Juan was a lot stronger than Ricky Hatton assumed he would be beforehand.

J.S: Before moving off the subject of the referee, some people said, and I quote “Ricky Hatton refereed the fight more than the referee did.” Some people said Hatton gave eye signals to the referee as to when he should break up a clinch. Your thoughts?

R.S: I didn’t see that when I watched the tape, so I don’t know if Ricky was signalling with his eyes or anything like that. But I would say the referee was using a lot of force when he pushed Juan free from a clinch. He used a lot more force pushing Juan than he did when pushing Ricky, every time he called break. But like I said, I think the referee did the job he was supposed to do and he did a pretty good job up until that 10th round.

J.S: What do you think Ricky should do now? Some people have urged him to retire – even some of the British media – do you agree?

R.S: You know, I think Ricky Hatton has had a good, long run. He’s on top now, he’s still world champion, but I think he should be smart like Lennox Lewis was when he knew when to get out. I think Ricky should follow suit. You really can’t miss Hatton when you fight him, if he watches a tape of the fight [with Lazcano] he will see all the mistakes he made. I think he should continue doing all the good he’s done for boxing and become a promoter. He can help to set up more great events like last Saturday’s. The thing is, I don’t see how much farther Ricky can go in boxing. There are no really good fights out there for him. He can forget all about a rematch with Floyd Mayweather. I think Floyd knocks him out much quicker in a rematch. Ricky’s made his money and he’s had a good run. I think he should call it quits while he’s still on top.

J.S: And as for Juan, he looked as though he can still beat a number of top guys. Do you agree? Do you think he should fight on?

R.S: Yes, he can. I think Juan should fight a few more fights. But he needs to fight the right guys that will help his career, not just fight up-and-coming guys.

J.S: Will you still train him then?

R.S: Yes, I will. I’d never tell a guy to quit. I’d advise them to if I thought it was right, but if they insisted on going on with a new trainer – someone they didn’t know as well – I’d stay with them if they chose to fight on. I would only try and suggest to a fighter that it was maybe time to quit.

J.S: It’s been great speaking with you, Ronnie. For my final question, who wins against Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi?

R.S: I think that fight is a bad move for Hatton. I think it’s a hard fight for him. Paulie won’t stand right in front of Ricky, he won’t stand and punch with him. Paulie has a good jab and he can make you look bad. I see Paulie out-boxing him, I really do. Two years ago it would have been Hatton’s fight by KO, but not now.

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