Hatton, Mayweather: Enough With Talks Of Retirement
10.12.07 - Matthew Hurley: It’s funny what one loss in the sport of boxing can do to a fighter and those around him. Once that sacred “Oh” goes people from everywhere come out of the wood work saying either the fighter was not as good as was once thought or that he should retire. In no other sport is being undefeated held in such uncompromisingly high regard..
Article posted on 11.12.2007
Going into his fight against Floyd Mayweather this past Saturday night Ricky Hatton was 43-0 with 31 KOs. He was challenging for not only the World Boxing Council welterweight title but for pound-for-pound supremacy. In his eyes he felt that if he beat Floyd, who was and now still is generally regarded as the best boxer in the sport, he would take over as boxing’s number one man on that mythical list. In actuality had he won most people would have said, “See, Floyd wasn’t as good as he claimed,” thereby Hatton had merely beaten an overrated fighter. Such is the fickle nature of many boxing fans and writers.
It was emblematic of Hatton’s enormous popularity that only moments after referee Joe Cortez waved the fight over, all of Ricky’s fans (and they overwhelmed the MGM Grand Arena) continued to chant, “There’s only one Ricky Hatton!” Their man had lost but the love affair continued, as it should have. Ricky himself acknowledged the crowd from the ring and said that he would indeed return to fight again, but immediately talking heads began discussing whether or not the young fighter who had moved up in weight to take on the sport’s best should retire. It happens all the time in boxing no matter how old the fighter is. Ricky Hatton is not a worn out, reflexively slow fighter like Evander Holyfield, he is an in his prime athlete who still reigns as the junior welterweight champion. Hatton insists that he will carry on but still there are dissenters.
“Ricky now has to sit down and see how he wants to re-establish his career,” Lennox Lewis told BBC 5 Live Sportsweek. “But if it were me, unless I felt I could come back and actually beat Mayweather, then I would retire. He’s been boxing for his whole life and I don’t think he has anything else to prove. But it should be up to Ricky if he wants to retire.”
It was refreshing that at the post fight press conference a humbled but witty Hatton notified the press and his fans of his future plans to continue. “Ricky ‘Fatton’ will be back. You’ll see me again soon certainly.”
It would have been nice if the ever mercurial Mayweather would have just said that he would be back as well, but his penchant of late has been to retire or threaten retirement after every bout. There’s both a tendency to just wave his proclamation off or tell him to just retire already because the act is getting old. The fact is neither man should even consider retirement because both men remain at the top or near top of their game. Enough with the word “retire”.
When asked about what Hatton should do a fighter who played the retirement game to an even greater degree than Mayweather does was candid in his observation.
“Ricky’s still a young man and there are a few more fights left in the kid,” Sugar Ray Leonard said. “He should take a nice long break and spend time with his family and come back later.”
Leonard himself admitted that his “retirements” at the later stages of his career hurt him because the long layoffs left him rusty. Had he the chance to do it all over again he would have fought more often than he did after his first comeback fight against Kevin Howard in May of 1984.
In the end the final word came from Hatton, as it should, and his trainer Billy Graham, who longingly anticipates Hatton walking away from the sport physically intact out of genuine affection for his longtime friend.
“I won’t decide, he will,” he said deep into the night at the MGM Grand. “He’s in his physical prime. If I thought he was slipping, I’d be the first to advise him to retire, but the way I feel is if he wants to carry on I’ll be with him until I do see those signs. If he wants to retire I’ve got no problem with that, but he’s at his peak so how can you ask a man to retire.”
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