By Sean Reed
It's a little known fact that Charles "The Future" Hatley has a family lineage consisting of Black Cowboys. If you're ever at Hatley's training facility, on ranch styled property, smack dab in the middle of an urban "hood" area known as Oak Cliff, Texas, it's not uncommon to see a close friend or relative riding up on horseback.
Amidst the cars, booming systems and typical inner city sights and sounds, you just might also see a brother strolling by on a horse, when you least expect it.
In the "Old West", Black Cowboys like Charley Willis and "One Horse Charlie" simply dusted off and climbed back onto those equine hindquarters, on the occasions when they were thrown or fell off.
Similarly, Charlie Hatley is getting back on the saddle again, after being knocked off course by professional and personal adversity.
A narrow win over Emanuel Augustus was followed by an up and down performance against Chris Chatman, in front of a national audience on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights". There were whispers about Hatley’s commitment to the sport, his penchant for partying, negligence of training and an overall lack of focus and preparation for the two biggest fights of his life.
Not long afterwards was the marijuana bust where Hatley allegedly had enough peyote to fill peace pipes across several state lines. Suddenly "The Future" looked bleak. Were the whispers valid?
To his credit, Hatley appears to be using these unfortunate circumstances as a wake-up call.
The legal side of the matter will take care of itself, one way or the other. Professionally, Hatley's applying and giving himself to boxing more than he has since his amateur days. Now, he's at the gym more often than not, he's going on road trips with gym mates and even carrying their spit buckets for them. And when he's not indulging in boxing, Charlie is spending hot summer days working for his father's roofing company (a humbling job if there ever was one).
Time will ultimately tell, but thus far, he's doing all of the right things.
After the longest drought of his pro career, Hatley got back into the ring on August 20th against Calvin Odom, at the Fairmount Hotel in downtown Dallas. Odom brought a record of 15-9 (11KO) with him from California, along with a win over Jose Luis Zertuche and losses to Grady Brewer, Walter Wright and Marco Antonio Rubio.
Hatley, 149 1/2, started briskly, buzzing Odom, 150 1/2, with a left hook. A flush right hand knocked Odom on his heels, but it also seemed to energize him. By the end of the opening round, Hatley was nicked under his left eye.
Despite some good head and upper body movement on Hatley’s behalf, Odom found the mark with a right in round two, but was again wobbled with a left hook, in the next stanza.
The fourth round would be the most competitive of the evening; Odom forced Hatley to hold with a left hook of his own, Hatley cleared his head and responded with a salvo of rights, but then found himself on the seat of his pants (for the third time in as many fights), courtesy of another hook.
Hatley is a very good offensive fighter and he's improving defensively, but he's still in the process of learning to implement the two simultaneously. This latest knockdown was another example of him getting off first, going for the kill, staying in the pocket too long and paying the price on the return serve.
Hatley’s a gunslinger, an action fighter, a warrior or even a "buffalo soldier", if you will, for better or worse. Undeterred, he bravely engaged Odom with flurries, throughout the fifth. A right hand backed Odom to the ropes and a furious two-way exchange ensued to end the sixth.
A big right from the veteran signaled to Hatley that Odom was still very much in the fight and on cue, Hatley sought immediate retribution. The eighth and final round was perhaps Hatley's best as he hurt Odom with a straight right and finished the frame very strongly. The scores were unanimous, 78-73, across the board, raising Hatley's record to 15-0-1 (11KO); Odom fell to 15-10 (11 KO).
Hatley put forth a workmanlike effort and he's still very much a work in progress. He seems to have turned a corner in his personal life, he's making strides to do likewise professionally and is in the midst of getting back on that saddle again, like his cowboy brethren before him.