I’m setting a precedent. The first Brit in the history of boxing to admit that Ricky Hatton is one of the most overrated fighters ever.
This is a guy who had 38 pro fights against garbage opposition, before Frank Warren managed to find him an ageing name, who he felt he could pull a number on.
Don’t get me wrong; Kosta Tszyu was a great fighter. But the guy was 35, and had only had one fight in the previous two years. Totally inactive because of injury.
Tszyu was handing out a boxing lesson in the bout for 7-8 rounds, ahead on all cards, until he suddenly remembered he was 35, injury prone, inactive, and inevitably gassed to Hatton pressure.
When the bell for the 11th rang, Ricky was down by five rounds on one card. Three on another. His only avenue to victory was KO. He delivered. But let’s not forget that he was thoroughly outboxed for most of the fight. And maybe father time got him off the hook.
After jumping from eighth to first in the rankings, with one win, he turned down big money offers from both Mayweather and Cotto for unification bouts. To take on Carlos Maussa. A fighter Cotto destroyed only 18 months earlier.
Still, Hatton could now call himself a two belt champion, and number one in the division. However, he had little intention of ever risking this mantle against any of the legit divisional No. 2s.
Mayweather moved up to 147, after team Hatton made it pretty clear that he was never going to get a shot at the ring title.
Cotto sat at No. 2 in the division for a year before realising the same thing.
Junior Witter was No. 2 for three years without getting a unification fight. Something he had grown used to, having been systematically ducked by Hatton at almost every level of boxing during the previous decade.
All the while Ricky was offering title shots to Carlos Maussa, Juan Urango, and Jose Luis Castillo. None of which were even ranked in the divisional top five.
Still calling himself the unquestioned “man” of the division.
Then, two years after turning down Mayweather at 140, he agrees to fight him at 147. Not out of pride. More the career defining pay check he was offered for the bout.
Again, as with Tszyu, he is systematically outboxed for most of the fight. Hugging consistently to try and spoil the fight.
He loses almost all of the first eight rounds, as with Tszyu. But this time father time does not save him, and he is sent to the canvas by a lightweight.
Thoroughly outboxed. Thoroughly outclassed.
However, Team Hatton are one step ahead, and the excuses start appearing in the press.
- The ref helped Mayweather.
- I wasn’t trained properly.
- The step up in weight was too much.
- I would never lose to anyone at 140.
The weight theory is a none starter. Hatton regularly entered the ring, at Junior Welter, weighing 158 pounds.
To put this into context, Floyd Mayweather boxed at 150 pounds against De la Hoya, at light-middle. Four pounds under the weight limit. Assuming he boxes lighter at 147, Hatton would have fought heavier in-ring Junior Welterweights in the past.
I also question his theory that he’s unbeatable at 140. Based on what? That he was totally outboxed there by Tszyu for much of the fight, but was saved by an 11th round KO? Or the fact that he basically hasn’t faced a real elite fighter there since?
He fancied Mayweather as he was a real undersized Welterweight, who he thought he could overpower. And the same theory applies to Pacquiao. The chances of him ever facing any legit, world class 147 fighter are next to nothing in my book.
The important thing to remember about Hatton is his natural size. Sure, he likes a beer outside the ring, and generally balloons to 190 pounds. But even taking off the flab, he’s generally a pretty natural 170 pound guy.
He puts himself through four month training camps, where he survives on water and lettuce, to cut down to 140. And then spends the next 18 hours putting on 20 pounds, so he basically enters the ring as a big Welterweight.
Sometimes two weight divisions heavier than his opponent.
Ricky Hatton for me is just an overrated fighter, who cut a big break by running into a fading Tszyu at the right time. He was outboxed during the fight, but managed to pull off a shock stoppage in the penultimate round.
Ever since then, it’s been all about self-preservation, in terms of calling himself the 140 “man.” By basically not facing any dangerous fighters there.
His assault on the pound for pound rankings has generally been a case of finding a guy small enough for him to have a chance against.
Mayweather, walking the streets 40 pounds lighter than him, was too big. Manny may just be small enough.
Hatton, the man who convinced a nation that he was a world class fighter.