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Archive for January, 2012

His desired place at the mythical pound for pound ranking has remained to be an elusive dream as fans labelled him “one-dimensional” and “limited” and critics questioned his capacity to deal with awkward fighters. Maussa was a tough nut to crack, Urango was a southpaw who keeps coming forward and Collazo was a slick and clever lefty.
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*My most fave among my boxing articles so far. enjoy ^^,

Published in April 29, 2009 @ boxing capital dot com
Part 2 of 3 In The Pacquiao vs. Hatton Series by Erik Sarmiento Dela Cruz

He got inside behind a quick jab – a very educated left jab that hitherto remained surprisingly underrated – and roughed up his more experienced opponent who happened to be the most feared complete fighter in the division. The first round was a very disrespectful Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) showing no fear, let alone respect, in bringing the fight to a man many considered to be one of the all-time brightest in the division. If anything, it was a sign that Kostya Tszyu (31-2, 25 KOs) was in for a very tough fight.

During the middle rounds, Tszyu tried to test Hatton’s forward express by allowing him to get inside. The plan was to go counter-punching and time him with his debilitating right hand. Tszyu has had many successes in doing that in his career. His was a career built upon terrorizing the junior welterweight division with his mid-range jabs and rights. Surprisingly, Hatton just walked through all of them and came back swinging aggressively in his smothering style. At the end of round eleven, Hatton proved most of the critics wrong by being able to convince the guy who was ranked so highly in the pound for pound list to remain seated on his stool.

Technically brilliant, strong on the weight, very powerful, vastly experienced and tactically astute, Tszyu was supposed to win but Hatton’s high octane forward express and never ending work rate proved to be better than anything else inside the ropes that night. It was a career defining moment for Manchester’s finest. He just beat a great fighter and he beat him convincingly and brilliantly.

If the brilliance he displayed on the Tszyu fight was to be the yardstick, he was supposed to be seen as a brilliant fighter. A guy who performed like that couldn’t be a mere second rate fighter. It was not the same as Trevor Berbick (49-11-1, 33 KOs) beating an aged Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KOs). It was, yes, a pleasing story of passing of the torch from a legendary champion to a new kid in the ring. But Ali was a fighter who was not even a shadow of his best years in the squared ring that night and that didn’t help Berbick to look good in that fight. Tszyu was a still a force to reckoned with and Hatton bested him, big time.

It was more of a Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) trashing a favored Marco Antonio Barrera (65-7, 43 KOs) in terms of skills, power and brilliance of the fight. But Pacquiao went on to become a great fighter, greater than what Barrera could ever be, leaving Hatton’s career that still longs for recognition and respect to pale in comparison. Pacquiao has almost proven to the world that beating a great champion is synonymous to being a great champion. But there’s also the story Antonio Tarver (27-5, 19 KOs) beating Roy Jones Jr. (53-5, 39 KOs) in a very strong fashion. The world of boxing is too harsh to just give away the label “great” fighter by simply beating a fighter who sports that adjective.

The thing is, Pacquiao has overcome a long list of formidable fights post Barrera to chart his own legendary career while Hatton has been, well, in not-so flattering performances. Maybe it was the lack of intensity and the vintage violence associated in a swarming style in his immediate fights post Tszyu. Or perhaps it was his much-storied penchant for the beer and the foods in between bouts that infringed on his capacity to deliver.

He did score some good wins in his next fights after Tszyu. But those wins didn’t help him at all in his bid for recognition and respect among the stateside fans, precisely the reason he came to America. On the contrary, those wins have merely put a dent on his legacy, with his ungodly fondness for clinching getting highlighted in some of those fights. The fans have seen enough of John Ruiz (43-8-1, 29 KOs) to make Hatton their new household icon.

The very limited and inexperienced Juan Urango (21-1-1, 16 KOs) hurt him in the sixth and he resorted to clinching on the last half of the game. He looked sloppy against Carlos Maussa (20-5, 18 KOs), having been unable to establish control on the first four rounds of the fight. Luiz Collazo (29-4, 14 KOs) wobbled him in the last two rounds and he looked ready to go at those crucial rounds of the game. The crime is, Collazo, though a bigger man at welterweight, was never considered to be a big puncher.

If you were the brilliant guy who just violently unseated a light welter legend three fights before, looking ordinary against average fighters like Maussa, Urango and Collazo is a capital offense. It’s unforgivable. His desired place at the mythical pound for pound ranking has remained to be an elusive dream as fans labelled him “one-dimensional” and “limited” and critics questioned his capacity to deal with awkward fighters. Maussa was a tough nut to crack, Urango was a southpaw who keeps coming forward and Collazo was a slick and clever lefty.

What happened to his career? Where’s the forward express now going?He has all the tools to take the boxing world by storm. Name it and he has all it: non-stop violent aggression marked by a very high work rate; a tenacious forward game plan marked by his capacity to absorb heavy blows; and a desire for an all out action. He has beaten good world class opponents and good regional draws before Tszyu. And he beat them all convincingly as not one was a close call. He proved he can overcome crisis against Jonathan Thaxton (34-9, 19 KOs) and Eamon Magee (27-6, 18 KOs); he showed he can be comfortable fighting at a distance against Ben Tackie (29-11-1, 17 KOs); he displayed how his work rate and pressure fighting style can devastate a fellow pressure fighter against Ray Oliveira (47-11-2, 22 KOs); and he exhibited how he can mix up all the good things he got to overwhelm a legend against Tszyu.

He was supposed to be next big star when he beat Tszyu. But his immediate performances after The Thunder have frankly been disappointing. The respect and recognition he longed have seemed to fizzle out as the mythical pound for pound ranking won’t still have his name.

Hatton’s career was in desperate need of a jumpstart to gain the reverence of the greater fans when Jose Luis Castillo (57-9-1, 49 KOs) came in his radar. Castillo was a great lightweight champion and a very marketable name having endured brutal wars with Diego Corrales (40-5, 33 KOs) (RIP). Castillo’s a durable fighter who, like Hatton himself, loves to come forward and he was ageing. The perfect liver shot that knocked Castillo out at the fourth stanza was a perfect shot to enliven his seemingly regressing career and steer it back to where it was going after Tszyu. The next step was to take on the greats and keep away from average fighters, at least at the moment. He’s now 43-0 with 30 KOs to waste some precious fighting time dealing with average fighters and “expose” himself further by performing miserably against them. He can’t afford to commit the same mistake again.

The momentum that was wasted after Tszyu can be picked up now after Castillo and disproved all the issues about his legitimacy as a pound for pound elite. Floyd Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) was, however, destined to fail him. But fighting is an irony. While he looked bad even by winning as against Maussa, Urango and Collazo, he looked a little good in his failed effort to trounce Mayweather at welterweight. The first five rounds were reminiscent of the brilliance and ferocity he displayed against Tszyu. Too bad there is such a thing as a one division wonder in boxing.

The Malignaggi fight was a brilliant way to get the respect and recognition he yearned for so long. This was a fight he needed to get his career to the path taken by the legends. Paulie Malignaggi (26-2, 5 KOs) was a speedster with more than average boxing skills. He doesn’t have much pop in his hands, yes, but dominating him all throughout the fight was never an easy task. And Hatton accomplished it with flying colors. The Malignaggi fight has taken his name within the lower top ten of the pound for pound list. The respect and recognition is now knocking on his door.

Castillo, Mayweather and Malignaggi, the impetus for a great career is now there. The question however is how deep the light welterweight division is to provide him quality fights? If the Collazo fight was any indication, he doesn’t have any business dealing with the welters. A point that was validated to him further by Mayweather flat on his back. By the looks of it, Hatton is doomed to be a second rater relative to the current pound for elites. He would always be there, within the radar and at a very striking distance, but the absence of quality fights would forever seclude him from the top five.

That is why perhaps the Juan Lazcano (37-5-1, 27 KOs) fight, which was obviously a one step back in his career, is forgivable. Lazcano was there to lose and Hatton needed a morale booster after suffering the first KO loss of his career. There’s no better the light welterweight can offer to him. The division can no longer help him advance his career to that greatness he aspires for so long.

Good thing that the Filipino pound for pound king has decided to visit him on his turf and give him a shot at that respect and recognition he has longed for his whole career. A Pacquiao win can certainly take his career to new heights. Trouble, however, is that Pacquiao is everything awkward that he hated in style. Maussa was a tough nut to crack, Urango was a southpaw who keeps coming forward and Collazo was a slick and clever lefty. Pacquiao is all of them, plus the speed, reflex and possibly, the welter power of Mayweather.

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