By Chris Le
Sunday marked the second installment of television’s best program, HBO’s Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 series (Sundays 10pm). The first series was made popular by chronicling the journeys of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. toward their mega bout this past May, which unfortunately failed to meet the lofty expectations. Pundits deemed the fight one that would “save” boxing, instilling enthusiasm in a sport that was all but dead. A split decision later, boxing was still on life support, and I was about ready to pull the plug. I almost gave up on the sport that I loved the most.
Then, in the last few months, boxing gave us three potential fights of the year – and reason to be fans again.
It all began with the Pride of Wales, Joe Calzaghe’s unanimous decision win over the game Mikkel Kessler. It’s not often that we have two men as skilled as Calzaghe and Kessler throwing caution into the wind and letting go as many punches as they did. The heart displayed by both men was enough to make you proud to be a boxing fan. Calzaghe’s victory puts him in line to move up to light heavyweight to challenge the ageless Bernard Hopkins, whose tactical counterpunching is Calzaghe’s perfect foil.
Then there was The Contender finale which saw Sakio Bika stopping Jaidon Codrintong in the 8th round, providing the boxing world with an all-time great action fight. The ebb and flow nature of the bout coupled with the free-swinging, almost wild style of Bika harkens back to Rocky Graziano and his legendary meetings with Tony Zale. It was as if it were the 50’s and 60’s again, the golden age of boxing.
And last week, we witnessed a back and forth battle with rising superstar Miguel Cotto grinding out a decision over Shane Mosley. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a rough and tough bout fought at such an elevated skill level. Every punch executed with textbook precision and nary a wasted motion. It was high-class boxing that could not have been produced with lesser fighters.
And on December 8, the boxing year ends with Floyd Mayweather Jr. squaring off against Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, a match up that has the ingredients to top all of the aforementioned fight of the year candidates. During the bout’s promotion, as seen in 24/7, Mayweather displays the level of confidence and arrogance present in any great fighter – but in his own manner of dirty-mouthed, bling-filled braggadocio. The antithesis of Mayweather, Hatton is as blue-collar as he is friendly, as humble as he is tough. In essence, the least Hollywood famous person you’ll ever see. One is everything the other isn’t. And neither would have it any other way.
If their bout is as entertaining as their preflight jeering and as tense as their mutual distaste for the other’s lifestyle, it will be one of the best in years. In my estimation, the fight has extreme potential because the only thing that is more contrasting than their personalities is their fighting styles.
Watch out for my analysis of each fighter and, of course, my prediction in the coming weeks.