Hatton vs. Maussa: Is Ricky Totally Focused For This Bout?

17.11.05 - By Dan Mocci: IBF Champion Ricky Hatton (39-0, 29 KO) and WBA Champion Carlos Maussa 20-2, 18) square off November 26th in an unlikely battle to unify half of the richly talented 140-lb. decision. The bout is somewhat unlikely when considering that 2005 began with future Hall-of-Famer Kostya Tszyu holding the title Hatton know owns. The bout becomes more unlikely when one considers that the virtually unknown Maussa snatched his version of the title from one Vivian Harris, the man who began ’05 as the WBA 140-lb. titlist. Factor in the names Floyd Mayweather (WBC) and Miguel Cotto (WBO) and even the average fan would be utterly shocked that Maussa a player.

Heading into the Tszyu fight the then 26-year old Hatton had racked up 38 consecutive victories fighting exclusively on his home turf in England. Joe Hutchinson, a shopworn Ben Tackie, and Tszyu-conqueror Vince Phillips represented the biggest names amongst the victims on Hatton’s resume prior to the Tszyu fight.

Nonetheless, it was only a mild upset when Hatton turned the trick on Tszyu, considering that the hungrier Hatton was fighting in his backyard and is nine years younger than the former champion. (Tszyu was certainly impressive in his victory over Sharmba Mitchell prior to the fight, but had become injury prone and inactive for long periods of time in recent years.) The major storyline in that fight, in retrospect, is the fashion by which Hatton dominated and defeated the champion. Few rounds were close, and the legendary Tszyu quit on his stool prior to the 12th despite the (faulty) perception that the bout was still close.

Maussa, unlike Hatton, remains under the radar despite his convincing knockout of Vivian Harris this past June. Part of this may be due to the fact that Harris himself was under the radar as a titleholder in a division ruled by bigger names the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Tszyu, Hatton, and even Britain’s Junior Witter. The Maussa-Harris bout itself was a mere afterthought as an undercard fight leading into the over hyped Gatti-Mayweather mismatch of a main event. Headed into the Harris bout the biggest win of Maussa’s career was against a very suspect prospect in Jeffrey Resto. Furthermore, Maussa had already been knocked out by Cotto and defeated by unheralded Arturo Morua.Yet, Maussa battered and stopped a fighter in Harris that just months prior was calling out Mayweather, and the rest of the division, the Pound-for-Pound kingpin in some circles.

On paper, little indicates that Hatton will do anything other than beat and probably stop Maussa. Hatton brings the Cotto-like heat that Maussa couldn’t handle and is unbeaten in England, where the bout will take place. The notion of the WBA Champ being beaten by a fighter the caliber of Morua would have anyone wondering why this bout would even be taking place. To his credit Maussa packs some punch, as his record and knockout percentage indicate. However, many have dismissed his victory over Harris as a fluke for a variety of reasons. For starters, the unfocused Harris seemed to be taking the bout as a tune-up for bigger purse fights down the line and simply to gain exposure on Pay-Per View. More importantly, Harris was exhausted and swinging for the fences as he tried to capture the public’s attention with a knockout and make a case with the public for a bout with Mayweather.

However, this bout deserves a close look and the 33-year old Maussa’s chances may not be as slim as the tale of the tape and numbers indicated. The distraction factor was the largest adversary of Harris in defending his title against Maussa. Maussa extorted Harris’ lack of focus and walked out with the title. Which leads to this question: Will Ricky Hatton’s recent promotional squabble with Promoter Frank Warren be a distraction for Hatton? Warren claims that Hatton has violated a contractual agreement between the two. Hatton, and his father, have begun promoting under there own flag and obviously disagree with Warren. Lawsuits were flying months ago and will again, despite Warren backing off for the time being. Also, not to be overlooked is the fact that Hatton has not an in ring battle since the Tszyu fight.

The safe bet is on Hatton coming in undistracted and pleasing the fans at the Hallam FM Arena and in his home country yet again. If all the hype behind fighting Tszyu in front of his countrymen couldn’t get to Hatton, then we should expect similar results. Regardless, Maussa is 1-0 when it counts against distracted champions.

At $19.95 on American TV, it should be worth a look to see if Maussa can pull of another upset. Heck, he could go from unknown to a legit Fighter of the Year contender in a span of six months. Not to mention, we’ve paid a lot more for bigger potential mismatches at $50 a pop! Those reasons alone are worth twenty bucks and a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. Besides, we’ve seen what happens when fighters get distracted. Let’s think Tyson in Tokyo, Cory Spinks in his hometown, Tommy Morrison tuning up against Michael Bentt, and even Harris despite the watchful eye of trainer Manny Steward.

Odds are strong that someone (probably Maussa) will be on his back for a ten count in this one. Hatton, ever the professional, should be focused and ready. But if he’s not, and the Warren situation and his inactivity since he won the title are a factor, buckle up for a fun ride on November 26th.

Article posted on 17.11.2005

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