Boxing


Witter bombs brave Battaglia in two

03.06.04 - By Gavin Macleod: Bradford’s Light-welterweight star Junior “The Hitter” Witter added the vacant European title to his British and Commonwealth straps with a terrifying display of power punching in the Nottingham Ice Arena last night. Fighting against the toughest opponent of his career, Italian Salvatore Battaglia, Witter unleashed a furious attack which would see his opponent destroyed in spectacular fashion.

Battaglia brought an impressive 21-3(10) slate into the ring with him and had mixed in world class before, when losing a split decision to German based Turk, Oktay Urkal. Now it is often said that when fighting in Germany against the hometown man you need to knock him out just to get a draw, so for one judge to score in favour of Battaglia, and against Urkal who had previously lost narrow decisions to world champions Kostya Tszyu and Vivian Harris, speaks volumes for the level of performance the man from Siracusa is capable of.


The first round began with both men looking to establish a jab and saw Witter assume an orthodox approach against his opponents awkward southpaw stance, but as he is synonymous with doing, Witter would change between Orthodox and Southpaw all night to show the ease in which he can switch hit whilst continually confusing his opponent. Battaglia started out brightly though, catching Junior with a straight right hand, as Witter’s guard was too low after throwing a left hook. The Italian was then looking to capitalise on this and became the aggressor but whenever he tried to close the range he would find Witter’s speed and reflexes continually taking him clear of any danger.

Indeed it is this speed, matched with two handed power, that makes Junior Witter such a danger to anyone in the world, and at the one minute fifteen mark of round one Witter would make a weak jab by Battaglia prove costly as he unleashed an absolutely lethal right uppercut that had his opponent holding on for dear life. It was an uppercut reminiscent of the corkscrew shots thrown by Witter’s former stablemate, Naseem Hamed in his prime, and was a shot that Battaglia never recovered from. Witter pursued his man with his hands held by his side showing the immense confidence that he has in his ability and it was confidence not unfounded as a lightning quick right hook counter caught Battaglia with his back to the ropes and buckled his knee’s. This brought about a mandatory eight count from Belgian referee Daniel van de Wiele with only two minutes gone of the opener.

However, to his credit, Battaglia tried to fire back when action commenced and could not be faulted for his heart, as other fighters may have looked to merely survive the rounds end in the hope of some respite during the interval. It was an attempt in vain though, as his legs were now rubbery and Witter landed a long straight left hand that knocked back Battaglia’s head in a neutral corner. One got the feeling that had “The Hitter” really stepped on the gas he may well have been able to finish the contest in the opening stanza but Battaglia’s experience would see him make sure no more shots landed clean, and hence saw out the rest of the round.

The bell sounded for the second round to commence and the vociferous crowd cheered expectantly, hoping to see Witter complete what had been so far a very impressive performance. He was not to disappoint. After trying to find his range with long body shots Witter was to seize upon another opportunity to use his deadly right hand just forty five seconds in. With Battaglia trying to counter a Witter left uppercut he left himself open and that split second is all it takes for someone of Witter’s ability to rob you of your faculties. He sent in a sweeping right hand that sent Battaglia reeling back to the ropes with his legs almost giving way, and the follow up right from Witter sent him down to the canvas for another eight count.

Again Battaglia rose, but this time the writing was on the wall and about to be signed by it’s author as Witter moved in for the kill. A right jab sent Battaglia to his now familiar stall on the ropes and as he ducked under and away from Witter he would receive a short right hook on the temple which saw him take to the floor once again, where this time the Belgian referee waved off the contest after one minute sixteen seconds of the second round.

With this win Junior Witter improved his record to 29-1-2 (18) and was his 14th stoppage victory in a row since losing in an IBF world title fight to Zab Judah back in October 2000. Witter took that fight at short notice and never did himself justice, but with his recent run of power packed victories he has now climbed to the very top of “who wants him?” mountain.

After the contest Witter’s trainer, the legendary Brendan Ingle spoke to British Eastside about his fighter and of course the match with Ricky Hatton that fans have been screaming about for the past four years. “I thought he was brilliant,” said Ingle, “That’s his 14th stoppage on the trot now. Everyone’s talking about Ricky Hatton but he holds the WBU title and it means nothing. Junior holds three titles now, the British, Commonwealth and European. These are titles the all time greats held like Randy Turpin. Everyone says what Ricky’s body punching would do to Junior, but the thing is he needs to hit him to the body first, he wouldn’t get near Junior’s body.

Junior Witter then added in his own comments regarding where he goes from here and the Ricky Hatton situation saying “I just want to fight regular. I have no problem with Frank Warren or Sky Sports they did well for me. I just want to fight regularly that’s all. I don’t care who it is, I’m here, I’ve got the goods and if you think you can beat me then bring it on, I’ll fight anyone. I have no interest in contracts at the moment. Mick Hennessy told me what he would do for me and so far he’s done everything he said he would.

“My dream fight would be Kostya Tszyu, but I’d love Arturo Gatti, Sharmba Mitchell, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto any of them. I’ll fight them whenever their ready. I just want real world titles, all of them. I’ll clean up everything at light-welter then I’ll move up to welterweight and clean up there as well.

“You can’t educate Ricky Hatton’s fans. They’ll never realise who he’s fighting. None of Ricky Hatton’s opponents have done anything. Like I keep saying if Ricky wants to fight me then I’m ready for him and I’ll wipe the floor with him.”

Certainly based on his current form and seeing how much he has developed as a fighter and a puncher in the past few tears it has wetted the appetite even more for the Witter vs Hatton fight to materialise, but that will be left up to the promoters to sort out. At the moment we can just sit back and enjoy as Junior Witter looks to blast his way to the world title shot he so desperately craves, and after last night, is so hugely deserving of.

Article posted on 03.06.2004



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