Hatton Mayweather: Questions Answered, Questions Raised
02.12.07 - By Vivek Wallace, Photo © Naoki Fukuda: With less than a week to go before this highly anticipated showdown, all of a sudden, the plot thickens. New details have emerged in a very strange way that have left the normally silent fighter more vocal, and perhaps the normally vocal fighter curiously silent. As we continue to analyze the fight in ESB's countdown, there's a few highly notable points that need to be sorted out and although this article would have been better served as a release on the day of the fight, I decided to drop it early because it's something I think every fight fan needs to ponder throughout the prefight buildup to see this fight for what it really is..
Article posted on 03.12.2007
In this sport, the best way to 'swing the pendulum' is to let the fans present the questions, let the fighters' actions answer those questions, then let the non-biased writers presents the facts....So here we go.
The Statement: Most have continued to talk about Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fight against Jose Luis Castillo, and the fact that Floyd was conceivably defeated, and walked away with a 'gift' decision because Castillo's pressure was more than Mayweather appeared to be able to handle.
The Facts: This was Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s first fight in the lightweight division, and not only did he take on the best challenger available, but he did so despite going through a full fight camp with a severe hand injury, as well as a well documented shoulder injury. In a private conversation with Leonard Ellerbe back in February when Mayweather Jr. was promoting the Oscar Dela Hoya fight, Mr. Ellerbe brought this to my attention and asked me to revisit the fight footage that proved his argument was a valid one. To his credit, sure enough, after only the first round, Mayweather Jr. was heard in the corner telling his trainers that his left shoulder was hurting him. To further cement this point, after the 8th or 9th round, Floyd stopped throwing the right hand completely.
Going into the 12th round, Roger Mayweather - trainer of Floyd - was very vocal in saying to his pupil, "I KNOW YOUR HAND IS HURTING BUT DAMMIT, SUCK IT UP"! And to the best of his ability, Floyd did, and was able to finish the fight. This info is important to note because when Ricky Hatton looked subpar against Luis Collazo in his first welterweight fight, most in the media used the 'step up' in weight class as a reason to give him a 'free pass', yet those same members of the media continue to overlook the fact that both men were jumping up in weight, yet one had to also overcome serious bodily injury. The only thing synonymous between the two fights was the fact that both men had opponents named Luis. Aside from that, Mayweather proved his mettle by giving an immediate rematch under better health circumstances and solidified himself as a true champ, while Hatton quickly went south to the weight limit most felt suits him best.
The Statement: Ricky Hatton's victory over Kotsya Tszyu put him among the sports elite.
The Facts: Contrary to what people may say and think, although Hatton did get the late TKO, I never really found this victory in itself as the true 'watershed' moment in Hatton's career. I think alot of people felt that way because it was the biggest name that Hatton had beaten and it didn't go the distance, but Hatton's legacy so far I think has been written based on his consistency to elevate his game at every level, rather than this particular fight alone. Tszyu had only fought 9 rounds in the last 2 years (actually 29 months) prior to that fight, and his health injuries were well documented which explained the layoffs.
Hatton fans who want to prove his worth should let his overall consistency and record speak for themselves and leave alone the 'he-made-Tszyu-quit-on-his-stool' dialogues because in that Tszyu fight, Hatton was never really threatened and Tszyu's stamina looked shot very early on. What we witnessed that night to me was the same thing we saw in the Mosley/Cotto fight. Which was a young and hungry lion feasting on a former ruler whose better days were obviously well behind him. Had Tszyu been in his prime, it's very possible this fight against Mayweather would not be dubbed "UNDEFEATED", if it were to have happened at all.
The Statement: Only Hatton and Mayweather Jr. can decide the outcome of this fight.
The Facts: As much as I'd like to say that this is the case, the possibility of foul play is becoming very visible among the pre-fight rumblings in the streets already. Joe Cortez is the official third man in the ring. As great as I personally think he is, Mr. "Fair-but-Firm" does have alot of speculation surrounding him. Who can forget the Johnson/Ruiz Heavyweight showdown years ago when Ruiz was allowed to grapple, wrestle, and do everything but box, only to see Johnson get disqualified for what was not really seen to be - in the words of commentator/trainer Emanuel Steward - a low blow. This was also the case in the 2nd Castillo/Mayweather Jr. fight, although Mayweather Jr. was able to win decisively because of talent. It was actions in the past like these from Cortez that led Bernard Hopkins to consider canceling his fight with Felix Trinidad when Cortez was mentioned as a possible ref for the fight.
If some of the past questionable 'acts' of Cortez aren't enough to make you scratch your head, consider the fact that of the three judges for this Hatton/Mayweather fight, two of them - Dave Moretti and Paul Smith - were among the panel that gave Oscar Dela Hoya a points victory in what was easily dubbed a 'gift' decision over Felix Sturm to setup a fight between Oscar and Bernard Hopkins. All of a sudden, considering these facts, as well as the fact that Oscar Dela Hoya's Goldenboy Promotions is promoting this mega-fight gives a total new, and perhaps prophetic life to his words in a recent interview when he stated that Hatton will be victorious and that fans could leave the arena very shocked.
In the coming days, more facts and fictions will sort themselves out, but this piece was solely meant to help educate my readers on what's really going on. The obvious is that there will be a fight in the ring. The not so obvious is a lot of the topics being discussed out side of it, which in the end could prove equally as important.
Tune in to tonight's 24/7: Mayweather/Hatton episode on HBO. Check your local listing for showtimes.
(Got feedback?: Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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