By Neil F. Dempsey
With everyone jumping on the Hatton bandwagon, the real question is can Ricky Hatton really be the first Britain since Lennox Lewis to unify two “genuine” belts in the same division?
No easy task. Carlos Maussa is a good solid fighter, but he is the most beatable opponent within a division that consists of arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world in Floyd Mayweather, and the exciting Miguel Cotto. Hatton has definitely taken the easy option of the 3 by fighting Maussa, but with boxing politics the way they are it would be difficult to match up with Mayweather and or Cotto without a serious amount of wrangling between various promoters and matchmakers.
Maussa is a man on the up looking for a big payday and Hatton can certainly deliver one of those with his army of supporters. If Maussa is seriously looking to progress within the Light Welterweight division, he certainly has a tough job on his hands. Hatton is a man on a mission who certainly appears to have the desire and ability to become an all-time great.
Hatton has certainly had a meteoric rise to the ranks of “super fighter”. His good nature and all action style make him one of the most marketable and liked fighters in the world but he is no Frank Bruno. Hatton has real ability and can make it to the top so long as he doesn’t get distracted by out of the ring antics. Frank Bruno was one of the most liked and respected boxers in British history, but he was not a world-beater. Bruno was a good fighter and a solid performer but he lacked that certain spark and ability that Hatton certainly has. When Hatton fought Kostya Tszyu there were certainly doubters around the world, there still are doubters, some people say that Hatton was lucky and Tszyu had grown old overnight.
There is no disputing the fact that Kostya was one of the of the greatest Light Welterweights of all time, in fact one of the best boxers of all time in any weight category. The way that Hatton approached the Tszyu fight was excellent, he really wanted that fight and he really wanted to prove he was more than a mere side show. Hatton wanted to prove that he had the real ability to make it to the top.
Of course people had doubts that Hatton really had what it takes to make a real impact within the Light Welterweight division, having fought a number of “average” fighters over the last few years. Hatton always maintained that he wanted to be tested and he's been ready for years to make the jump from great British fighter to genuine world superstar. The Tszyu fight reinforced what Hatton had been telling us for years, that he is the real deal.
The Hitman rose to the occasion that night and expelled a lot of the doubters that said was wrapped up in cotton wool and his defenses had been hand picked by a clever Frank Warren. There were a lot of people who said that Warren was out to make as much money for the both of them until the night came that Hatton would get found out. Well that night hasn’t come YET? Will Maussa be the man to halt Hatton's charge to the top of the world?
The light welterweight division is packed full of stars, yet Hatton has the ability to conquer this division and conquer all his doubters at the same time. Maussa is the weakest of the 4 “genuine” champions in the division and at 34, he is no spring chicken. He's been talking up his chances against Hatton. Having already been outclassed by Cotto, Maussa thinks he can out punch Hatton. Big boasting and as the saying goes “pride comes before a fall” and Maussa will fall hard. Not to take anything away from Maussa he is a big puncher and has 18 KOs to his name from 20 outings, but Hatton will have too much for him.
They say that styles make fights will this fight is no different both are come forward fighters who don’t know how to quit, Hatton has a big heart and an even bigger uppercut! Maussa has to be respected and Billy “The Preacher” Graham insists that Hatton has trained harder then ever for this fight. This reinforces the fact that although Maussa is more than beatable, he also has a wicked over the top punch which can cause problems to any fighter so Hatton must beware and if he is not up for it then he could find himself in a lot of trouble.
History is littered with examples of fighters who have underestimated opponents, Lennox Lewis was the prime candidate for this being caught cold by an “average” Hasim Rahman, but the one thing Rahman has is a punch and so does Maussa. Hatton needs to be at the top of his game if he is to prove that the Tszyu fight was no fluke and add the WBA title to his IBF crown.
This is a fight that Hatton can win and win easily if he is as up for it as he was for the Tszyu fight. The build up of course has been tarnished by out of the ring antics, if Hatton was to lose this fight then it is more than conceivable that the British public could turn on Frank Warren. The man, who has dangled the court case over Hatton's head in the build up to this fight, this could not have been easy for Hatton to train and work for a fight that up to a few weeks ago may not have happened.
Warren has insisted all along that he is the man who has been cheated, yet he took the right decision to “allow” the fight to happen. Could Warren have really stopped the fight? The doubts are there, he created a lot of publicity threatening to take the Hatton family to court in order to stop the fight from goinging ahead and all of a sudden he changes his mind and has “done the right thing”.
Warren knew the risk that he faced if he did stop Britain’s most popular fighter from doing what he does best, getting in the ring. The public would not have been happy if the fight had been stopped and the people are the ones who count. After all they pay Warren and Hatton's wages. If Warren has been treated unfairly by the Hatton camp, then you have to feel for him because he is stuck between a rock and hard place, he is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn’t.
Someone had to lose out and this time it was Warren who took the dignified route by allowing the fight to take place, it wont be the last of this fight, Warren will not roll over and play dead and risk losing his biggest asset.
Warren is in charge of a lot of good quality fighters who draw big audiences fighters like Calzaghe, Skelton, Harrison and of course Amir Khan but Hatton was his star attraction and losing the rights for this fight and the subsequent fights will be a huge loss to Warren. One thing is for sure, Hatton's camp will have done all in their power to ensure that these distractions remain nothing more than a newspaper article and have no affect on Hatton's preparations. In reality, Hatton could not help, but be slightly distracted by all of the court realted talk. The hope from British fans is that if Hatton has any frustrations then he will take them out on Maussa.
Hatton to win inside of eight rounds will be the ideal scenario in order to pave the way to Mayweather and Cotto. Although Maussa may surprise a few people with his forward style, Hatton will have too much in the tank and will outbox and outpower Maussa inside the distance to go 40 and 0.
Lets hope that by this time next year, we are talking about a real super fight between the undefeated egotistical, talented Mayweather and Britain’s undefeated golden boy Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton.
We can dream cant we?