Hatton: Still on the Rise or on the Decline?
27.09.06 - By Neil Thompson: 2006 has been a mixed year for Ricky Hatton. On one hand he has become a 2-weight world champion, secured a contract with HBO and continued his unbeaten run. Whilst on the other hand his reputation took a bit of a dent when Luis Collazo was a whisker away from beating the ‘Hitman’. Not only was Ricky almost beaten in Boston but also he has fought only once in 2006 and failed to get a fight with any other elite P4P fighter.
Article posted on 27.09.2006
Ricky Hatton is at the crossroads in his career. During a meteoric rise through the junior welterweight division he looked unstoppable with victories over Ben Tackie, Eamon McGee, Ray Oliveira, Micheal Steward, Vince Philips, Mikhail Kripolapov and Freddie Pendleton. Impressive victories such as these earned Hatton a shot at the Australian/Russian legend and linear world champion Kostya Tyszu. Having wiped out Sharmba Mitchell only a few months before, Kostya was a big betting favourite with fans, bookies and sports writers alike.
On 4th June 2005, I attended the fight at the M.E.N Arena and witnessed Hatton outwork, out fight and out-punch Tyszu into submission. This proved what Ricky Hatton fans already knew, that Ricky was the real deal and not the over-hyped and over protected fighter that the ‘haters’ would have you believe.
In November the same year Ricky added the WBA version of the title to the IBF and Ring Championship belts already in his possession, He did this by impressively beating Carlos Maussa. This Colombian fighter was tough, awkward and heavy-handed. He had also previously shocked the boxing world by destroying the respected champ Vivian Harris. When the two champions squared off Hatton got off to a nightmare start by getting cut over both eyes, yet he stayed focused and calm to win every round before flattening Maussa in the 9th. Hatton’s performance may not have shown outstanding boxing skills in beating Maussa, like Miguel Cotto did when beating him, but having won every round, fighting through two badly cut eyes and knocking the Colombian clean out, Ricky’s performance was still superior to the Puerto Rican power puncher.
Ricky had now captured two versions of the 140 lb world championship as well as the even more prestigious ‘Ring Championship belt’. Also, he had made it into most peoples ‘pound for pound’ lists. Only the ‘haters’, jealous of his huge mainstream popularity (which other P4P fighters can only dream about) refused to give Hatton the recognition he deserved. To cap-off a fine year the respected ‘Ring magazine’ made Hatton the ‘Fighter of the Year’ which no British fighter had ever received before.
Ricky’s next assignment would be a move up in weight to challenge for the WBA welterweight title against the unheralded and virtually unknown Luis Collazo. Most Hatton fans thought this would be a walkover yet Hatton was given the fight of his life. Although Hatton gained the decision over 12 hard rounds, many people thought Collazo did just enough to win. Having read many different fight reports and examining the comments left on Eastside Boxing, it appeared the boxing community was split 50 – 50 on who actually deserved the win. I myself had it very, very close and could have gone either way. The fight was too close to be called a ‘robbery’ but I have to admit had it not been for the first round knockdown Collazo would of won.
Hatton did not look good against Collazo, the head movement was missing, and he struggled with Collazo southpaw stance, his height, his strength and his workrate. For the first time in Ricky’s career he was competing with a fighter who could match his own workrate and a fighter he could not dominate as he did to everyone of his opponents at the lower weight class. More alarmingly, Hatton’s technique seemed to have gone backwards. Collazo hit Ricky with every punch in the book and almost stopped him in the last round. How much of this was due to Collazo’s southpaw stance and his ability not be dominated by Hatton’s strength and style I’m not sure. Thankfully Hatton has decided to compete back down at junior welterweight (140 lb). In hindsight he should have stayed there in the first place.
So now he’s lined up to win back his own IBF 140 title against Urango, a fight that should be well within Hatton’s ability to win. Unfortunately this will not be happening until January 2007 which means Hatton has only fought once in 2006. For a fighter who blows up in weight in-between fights, this is not a good sign. If Hatton is successful a super-fight with Jose Luis Castillo is in the works. Hatton and Castillo will apparently share the same bill in January and face each other in the summer. Castillo is a huge test for Hatton, the biggest since his win over Tyszu. Can Hatton put on that kind of performance outside of Britain? Well time will tell. Personally I think it’s a fight Hatton can win as Castillo is made for Hatton, but on the other hand Hatton is made for Castillo. This makes a Hatton v Castillo fight a very intriguing contest. This of cause will leave the newly crowned WBC champ, Junior Witter out in the cold. However, Witter has to understand that Castillo is a bigger name than himself and the Urango fight was arranged before Witter beat Corley. Although a Hatton-Witter fight would be huge in the UK, it wouldn’t have the same appeal on a global scale. Hatton-Castillo is the bigger fight and must take priority.
Whilst I’m on the subject of Junior Witter, I don’t feel Ricky Hatton has too much to worry about. Witter has a similar counter punching style to Kostya Tyszu. Just like Tyszu I don’t feel Witter could handle Hatton’s workrate, fitness and aggression. Witter’s stamina has looked suspect in the past and he hasn’t looked impressive in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, Witter is world class but Hatton is simply better.
Looking to the future, I really hope 2007 is a better year for Ricky Hatton fans than 2006 was. Hatton fighting only once in 2006 has me worried. Is he loosing his drive and ambition? Will this inactivity hamper any future success? Many experts feel a fighter like Ricky needs to fight more regularly, I agree.
In 2007 I expect a dominant performance against Urango, Once that’s out of the way we should get a summer superfight against Castillo. If Hatton comes through that tough fight a unification contest with Junior Witter would give us British fans a night to remember.
Whatever the future holds for Hatton, he needs the big fights to happen as soon as possible. History tells us that most fighters with Hatton’s type of aggressive, offensive all action style do not have a long career. Fighters like Barry McGuighan, Ray Mancini, Mike Tyson, Paul Hodgekinson etc all seem to peak early and burn out by the time they reach 30. Hopefully, the Collazo fight is not an indication that Hatton’s decline has already set in. I do believe Ricky can continue to mix it with the elite for another couple of years. As a Ricky Hatton fan myself, I hope we see the real Ricky Hatton back in 2007.
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