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 Last update:  3/4/2011       Read more by Thomas Gerbasi         
   
Matthew Hatton: Ready To Derail The Saul Alvarez Train
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By Thomas Gerbasi, photo by Hogans Photos

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone as calm before a big fight as Matthew Hatton is before he challenges Saul Alvarez Saturday night for the WBC junior middleweight title.

Forget that hes fighting the Great Mexican Hope in the 20-year old phenom, doing it in California, far removed from his Manchester, England hometown, and doing it on HBO. Disregard that at 29, he has the opportunity to become a world champion and a major player in the fight game, and not just a solid fighter destined to be known as Ricky Hattons brother. Oh yeah, hes also fighting above the weight where hes had his best performances over the last few years.

But on a Sunday night in Southern California, six days removed from destiny, Hatton is watching the Oscars while talking about a fight he didnt think was even possible a couple years ago.

Ive always had belief in myself that I could box at this level, but maybe yeah, a couple years ago I would have found it hard to believe, Hatton told BoxingScene. I always thought that I could get there one day, but the rate Ive improved over the last couple years has been remarkable really, so its been fantastic the way Ive improved and Im really looking forward to this opportunity.

Its an opportunity some in the game would have turned down, content to wait until all the cards were in their favor. Hatton, if you havent guessed by the last name and the 41-4-2 record, is a fighter. And, as he points out, hes self-managed. So when he was approached with facing the hottest young fighter the sport has seen in years, he didnt hesitate to travel across the pond to take on the 35-0-1 Canelo.

Ive been pretty dominant, to be honest, at European level over the last 12 months, he said. I won the European title and defended it twice, and I beat Yuriy Nuzhnenko, who is a former WBA title holder, so I am ready to make the move up to world class. Alvarez is obviously a good, young fighter. Theres a lot of publicity surrounding him, there are a lot of big plans made for him, and theyre saying hes going to be mixing it with the likes of Mayweather, Pacquiao, etc. soon, so theres obviously a lot of motivation to be the first man to beat Alvarez, to perform in America in front of a large crowd with the WBC title at stake and also put myself in line for some super fights.

Frankly, its a fight thats overdue for the veteran of over a decade in the pro game. Sure, hes had some spotty performances early on, but as the years have progressed, hes gone from a raw talent to a solid contender, with his nine fight (8-0-1) unbeaten streak since his last defeat against Craig Watson in 2008 proving him to be more than deserving for at least a shot at an alphabet title. Throw in the Hatton last name, and you figure that someone somewhere would have given him a title shot, but no dice.

I have had setbacks in my career, but winning the European title, which is a prestigious belt, was a massive breakthrough for me, said Hatton. I proved myself at that level beating Nuzhnenko, who was a former world champion, and it was just a case of me biding my time and waiting for the right opportunity.

Yes, you read correctly. No bitching, no moaning, no woe is me for not getting a shot, just an honest assessment of his career to this point and an appreciation for what is in front of him now. Its a trait Matthew Hatton shares with his brother Ricky, and if you think the humble, down-to-Earth attitude is just a shtick, its not. Its how the Hattons are built and how they carry themselves. Frankly, its refreshing.

You get a lot of people trash-talking and disrespecting their opponents and thats not the way I am, said Hatton. I have respect for every fighter that I get into the ring with. Im not going to disrespect Saul or say anything negative about him because I think for a 20-year old man to achieve what hes achieved so far has been fantastic. Ive been really impressed with him, but Im gonna beat him. I go into this fight with no doubts in mind. Im 29 years of age, and I think physically and mentally Im coming towards my peak, and I know Ill have the edge in this fight. Its gonna be a great fight, a close fight, a tough fight for both of us, but Ill be the winner. Theres no doubt about it.

So how does Hatton win this weekend, especially when Alvarez has speed, power, and youth on his side? Well, you make it a dogfight, and Hatton like his brother has been in enough tough scraps over the years to hold a significant edge over his foe in that department.

I do think it can be a factor, said Hatton. Saul has been very dominant in his fights, hes been in a lot of one-sided fights and thats a detriment to him because hes been leveled above his opponent, whereas Ive been in hard fights, tough fights where Ive had to bite down on my gumshield and come through rocky moments. Theres gonna be rocky moments in this fight, I believe, for both fighters, but I know I can come through those moments and keep on going. Can he do the same? Well soon find out on Saturday, but Im certainly gonna be asking him some questions hes not been asked before.

One of those questions fight fans have is are Alvarez recent wins mere mirages? He had some rocky moments early against Jose Cotto, and lets face it, wins over Carlos Baldomir and Lovemore NDou may look good on the record since theyre both former world champions, but they were also 39-years old when Alvarez beat them. This fact hasnt escaped the notice of Hatton, who fought to a 12 round draw with NDou back in 2009.

He (Alvarez) has got some good fighters on his record, and Baldomir and Lovemore NDou are both quality fighters and former world champions, but I think when he fought both those guys they were 39, he said. So theyve been good fighters in their day, but their day has been and gone. They wont carry the drive, the determination, and the desire that Ill bring on March the 5th. I think Saul is definitely the best fighter that I will have stepped into the ring with, but likewise for him, I think Ill be the biggest test of his career so far.

Its that quiet confidence that makes Hatton dangerous, and after going from Billy Graham to working with Lee Beard and then Bob Shannon after the Watson fight, his belief in his ability has only grown.

When I was being trained by Billy Graham, he was putting a lot of his efforts into training Ricky, and a lot of the time I was training myself, said Hatton. I lost in a Commonwealth title fight, and thats when I decided that I needed to make a change to the team around me. I changed trainers and since then the improvement has been massive. Ive finally been getting the coaching that I feel my talent deserves. And when youre winning fights and performing better, youre enjoying it more and you get better and better. In this training camp Ive noticed a big jump again, and people are gonna see a much improved Matthew Hatton again on Saturday.

Thats as far as hell go. No slamming of Alvarez, no predictions of spectacular knockout wins. Hatton knows that the time for talk is almost over. Now he just had to do what hes been training to do to win.

Actions speak louder than words, and you can talk for as long as you want building a fight up, but I dont think this fight needs building up, he said. People know its gonna be a good, exciting fight and we both want to get in there and have a fight. Im grateful for the opportunity and Im gonna grasp it with both hands and win this fight. A lot of people are making me the underdog in this fight, and thats up to them, but I certainly dont see myself as the underdog.

Tags: Saul Alvarez , Matthew Hatton , Alvarez vs Hatton , Alvarez-Hatton


 

 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by ShoulderRoll, on 03-05-2011
[QUOTE=Sweet Jesus]Over the past 4 years, you haven't been able to come up with a new joke?[/QUOTE] The Puerto Rican posters haven't been able to stop hating on Mexican boxers so it all evens out.

comment by Clint650, on 03-04-2011
i agree hes a good sport, and well deserving for this match since Alvarez is still a bit too green for the likes of Angulo and Cintron. from a promo point of view this makes sense and Hatton knows he's lucky to have the opportunity and to hear him express that is a good thing. most fighters nowad...

comment by toysale, on 03-04-2011
Hatton's attitude to this fight is world class! I hope he can upset the odds and do what he needs to do to win an alphabet title, he is underlooked because he's the brother of Ricky but having said that, I don't think Ricky was particularly great, he was good but not great. Can't help but think...

Hatton vs Alvarez
comment by joserm, on 03-04-2011
If Alvarez had black hair and a tan; he'd be lucky to get on TV AZTECA!

comment by lluisone, on 03-04-2011
We dont like ATOLITO like mexicans do.....canelo like to fight old people and he just likes to fight people with advantage .........GO HATTON you can do it ...just dont let him get you against the ropes ........:boxing:

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