The Boxer and The Fighter

 

By Chris Le

Entering Saturday’s fight, I saw it as Ricky Hatton being the rugged one, willing to take two punches in order to land one giant bomb, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the pretty boy (no pun intended) who could wither if roughed up.

As it turns out, my perception of Hatton wasn’t far from the truth, but boy was I wrong about Mayweather.

Through a hell fire that was Hatton’s barrage, Mayweather was unflappable, surgically breaking down the Englishman en route to a 10th round TKO.

Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), in arguably his greatest performance, proved a lot to me. That he can win a rough-and-tough (and, at times, dirty) fight, without abandoning his exquisite technique. That he can weather a storm. That he can take a punch. But most of all, that he’s as much a fighter as he is a boxer. And that is what all of the all-time greats do.

Before Saturday, Mayweather simply cruised through 38 previous fights without breaking a sweat. I never saw him dig deep and pull out a victory like what we saw with Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier or Ray Robinson against Jake LaMotta. He was always absent of that killer instinct while under distress, mainly because he was usually too talented to be in trouble or a roughhouse fight. I lumped Mayweather with the likes of Roy Jones Jr. and Mike Tyson – ultra talents with untested mettles. With his performace against Hatton, however, I am now more willing than ever to group Mayweather with the elite of the elite.

Despite a comfortable lead on the scorecards, I can say without hesitation that Hatton was Mayweather’s toughest fight to date. In a fight that at times looked more like a wrestling match, Hatton mauled, pushed around and even dished out a handful of shots to the back of his opponent’s head, but even against all this, Floyd was never bullied. Not once did Mayweather back down; he stood his ground in the face of danger and was sharp-shooting Hatton with accurate counters the entire night. All of which culminated in the tenth when Hatton lunged in for a wide right hook, but was met only by Mayweather’s left fist. It was beautifully timed and square on the jaw. That was the story of the fight: timing and precision over strength and aggression.

It doesn’t hurt that Hatton, though fighting with the right approach, wrongly executed his game plan. Super aggressive as he was, which he needed to be, he was mindless in his strategy. He barely threw any jabs, and jabs are key to beating quick-firing boxers like Mayweather. Obviously, you’re not going to win the battle of jabs against a supreme boxer like Floyd, but the point isn’t to out jab him but to get him out of rhythm and set up punches. All night, Hatton was lunging with wide punches, essentially leading with his face. He needed to attack behind a jab, trying to disrupt Mayweather’s timing. Inexplicably, Hatton abandoned his jab as well as his work to the body, usually a trademark of the Englishman. Mayweather took full advantage.

My Scorecard

Round

Mayweather

Hatton

1

9

10

2

10

9

3

10

9

4

10

9

5

9

10

6

10

8

7

10

9

8

10

9

9

10

9

10

TKO

11 12 Total

Regarding their futures, Mayweather’s only remaining challenge at welterweight is Miguel Cotto, who recently defeated former champion Shane Mosley. Cotto (31-0, with 25 KOs) has a style with a mix of aggression and skill that could potentially cause Mayweather a few problems, certainly more so than Hatton. If not Cotto, I could see Mayweather retiring, a move he has hinted to for a while, citing the breaking down of his body, mainly his back and fists. Either way, I think Mayweather’s legacy and bank account are secure.

As for Hatton (43-1, with 31 KOs), even with this loss, he still has a lucrative future ahead of him. His down-to-earth charm and entertaining style make him a fan favorite. He could move back down to junior welterweight (140 pounds), where he fought most of his career, and face WBC champion Junior Witter, in an all-UK battle that would have as much animosity as Mayweather-Hatton. If Cotto fails to lure Mayweather into a fight, Ricky Hatton would be an extremely entertaining second option.

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5 responses to “The Boxer and The Fighter

  1. I didn’t watch the fight. I read that Mayweather returned a back-of-the-head punch to Hatton with no punishment. What’s up with that?

  2. Mayweather mainly retaliated. Hatton started the rabbit punches. Unlike the NFL, it’s the who initiates that gets punished.

  3. PBF made about $50 million this year, self-proclaiming to be the second-highest paid athlete behind Tiger Woods. That’s higher than Michael Vick.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/specials/fortunate50/2007/

    Tiger Woods made $100 million this year in endorsements. No way anybody can bring in that much business for anything. Impossible.

  4. Sitting here I can already think of four endorsements Tiger has: Nike, Gillette, Tag Heuer, and a car company (Buick, Pontiac, or something). I can see him getting around $25 million from each. And I’m sure he has dozens of more endorsements. Either way, the guy is too rich.

    What surprises me is Phil Mickelson. Nearly twice the endorsement money of LeBron James. Never would’ve thought. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one or two advertisements featuring Lefty.

  5. I saw that fight. My uncle is a cutman, Jacob “stitch” Duran, so it comes with the family. Anyway not to downplay Mayweather’s performance but one thing I remember about the fight was the ref hugging Mayweather at the end. That’s how it was throughout the fight, the ref kind of favored him. :[

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