Is there only one Ricky Hatton? After the Brit’s 11-round beat-down of Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday, the answer is an emphatic ‘no.’
Throughout his career, Hatton has battered and frustrated opponents with fast, powerful hands and a smothering hit-and-grab style of fighting. But the Hatton we saw on Saturday was different than “The Hitman” of old; the new Hatton was more fluid with his attack, better able to land his often wild power punches, and more adept at avoiding incoming shots. There are now two Ricky Hattons – the Hatton who lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December of last year, and the improved Hatton of now.
Hatton’s enhanced defense can probably be attributed to his new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., the father of Mayweather Jr. In the six weeks Mayweather Sr. worked with Hatton, the 56 year old promised the media that Hatton would stop getting hit as a result of his aggression. This pledge largely came true on Saturday, as Hatton used career-best feints and angles to get inside and inflict damage upon Malignaggi.
Hatton dumped long-time trainer Billy Graham after struggling to a win against Juan Lazcano in May. Mayweather Sr., Hatton said, was a great replacement because of the direction he provided in Hatton’s camp. This collaboration ironically came after Mayweather Sr. called Hatton a “human punching bag” before Hatton’s fight with Mayweather Jr.
But with the impressiveness of his most recent outing, Hatton's life could be filled with even more irony. There remains the outside chance that Hatton face Mayweather Jr. again, only this time with Mayweather Sr. in the Manchester native's corner. The Mayweather vs. Mayweather matchup, which was cancelled when Mayweather Jr. pulled out of a rematch against the Mayweather Sr.-traind Oscar De La Hoya, would finally take place with Hatton in the middle.
How would that be for a turn of events?
Many will question if Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) would stand a chance against Mayweather if the two were to meet again. Their first fight was a one-sided affair that Mayweather pick apart his aggressive foe with crisp, telling blows en route to a tenth-round stoppage. And although Hatton’s defensive skills have improved, the 30 year old would have a difficult time making Mayweather, one of the game’s most accurate punchers, miss with his shots.
But Mayweather-Hatton II makes sense for both fighters – and for fans. Mayweather, whose addiction to money is about as strong as R. Kelly’s alleged lust for teen girls, would make another multi-million dollar payday in a rematch that most would pick him to win. Hatton would in turn get the chance to avenge his only career loss. Fans would get to see Mayweather end his retirement in a highly-dangerous comeback fight.
Hatton has been talked about as a potential opponent for the winner of the December 6th clash between superstars Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. But banking on landing the victor, especially if it were to be the inactive De La Hoya, would be unwise for Hatton, whose prime days are numbered. Hatton would be better-served to pursue a rematch with Mayweather while he still has the goods to win the fight. A win over Mayweather would be the only way Hatton could secure his legacy as the all-time great he hopes to be.
Mayweather-Hatton II would likely play out similar to the first fight, but several discrepancies could take place. In the first few rounds of Mayweather-Hatton I, Hatton’s aggression forced Mayweather into a low-volume work rate. Not until Hatton began to come in recklessly did Mayweather up his punch output. If Hatton could get inside against Mayweather like he did versus Malignaggi, he would continue to thwart Mayweather’s punch volume, thus allowing his own work-rate, one of his best qualities as a fighter, to be more effective. Further, Hatton, who has now boxed twenty-one rounds in the past eleven months with ultra-slick fighters, would not make the same careless mistakes that allowed Mayweather to win the first fight so handily.
Mayweather, who announced his retirement after his win over Hatton, has yet to indicate that he’d like to return to boxing. But “Pretty Boy’s” greed for green is powerful. He’s already beaten one Ricky Hatton. To get another payday, he’ll just have to fight another.