“I wasn’t worried about the two knockdowns,” said Ornelas (26-4, 16 KOs). “I just thought I’m going to have to kick his butt.”
Body shots proved the secret formula for Ornelas who stopped McKart (51-8, 31 KOs) at the end of the fifth round for a technical knockout before more than 1,000 mostly British fans at the MGM Grand. The fight card was called “The U.K versus the world.”
But it wasn’t as easy as one-two-three with McKart using his veteran experience and southpaw stance to jump to a four-point lead after scoring two flash knockdowns including one in the second that apparently looked like a slip.
No matter. Ornelas was determined to win the rematch after losing their first encounter that ended in a split-decision loss. This time he gritted his teeth and whacked away on McKart’s left and right side of his torso.
McKart wasn’t going to succumb easily, but after sustaining crunching blows to the right side of his body, a right hand to the left side caught him by surprise and down he went for the first time in the fourth round.
“He got me with a great shot,” said McKart, who had dropped Ornelas in the first round with a left hand to the body.
Several right hands and left hooks to the ears of McKart also left him unable to hear. After the fifth round the Michigan fighter returned to his corner with a look of frustration. He decided to call it a night.
Ornelas jumped backward off the top rope to celebrate.
“I’m so happy,” Ornelas said. “I had to win, I had no choice.”
Undefeated John Murray (22-0, 12 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over awkward Mexico’s Miguel Munguia (16-10, 13 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout. It was Murray’s tight defense and straight punches that won the fight according to the judges 97-93, 96-94, 98-92.
Another undefeated British fighter named Dean Harrison (10-0, 2 KOs) used to crisp right uppercuts to chop down Ramon Guevara (8-14-2) of the Dominican Republic at 53 seconds into the fifth round.
Former American amateur star Karl Dargan (1-0) found the going a little rough in his first pro bout against Las Vegas fighter Roberto Norris (1-1) in a junior welterweight bout. But his speed proved the difference winning by unanimous decision 40-36 twice and 39-37.
Scotland’s Craig McEwan (9-0, 6 KOs) used his vast amateur experience, southpaw stance and quickness to befuddle Mexico’s Alfredo Contreras (6-3-1) in an eight round middleweight contest. All three judges scored it 79-73 for McEwan.
In a surprise, East L.A.’s Jose Gonzalez (14-4-1) seemed to be the victor after eight rounds of a blistering body attack, but the fight against England’s Lee Meager (21-2-2, 8 KOs) was ruled a majority draw. Judge Patricia Jarman scored it 79-73 for Meager though it looked like he was getting out-boxed for most of the eight rounds.
New Jersey’s Rich Pierson (6-1, 4 KOs) blitzed Jimmy “The British Assassin” (10-2, 7 KOs) in the very first round with several lightning combinations. After two knockdowns referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight in favor of Pierson.
British lightweight Martin Gethin (11-0-1, 5 KOs) knocked out Mexico’s Fabian Luque (8-8-4) in 24 seconds of the fourth round.
The bottom line is that we enter 2008 with even more mouth-watering match-ups promised. And perhaps the biggest victory of the year has been the willingness of Top Rank and Golden Boy to make the right fights happen, come hell or high water.
Boxing fans know this. And we are excited that the sweet science is trending in the right direction, with old beefs left behind.
However, prepare yourself for possibly another mainstream backlash. We’ve all been there before. It’s that week or month of the year that boxing enters news cycle. And the authority tells us what’s wrong with our sport. Soon enough, they go back to acting as if boxing doesn’t exist anymore.
But now we have another “name” fight. Since defeating and “retiring” (in the Jay-Z sense, at least) Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has become the most visible active American boxing champion. His bout with Oscar was a marketing blockbuster, but an athletic bomb.
The millions that were watching their 1st fight in years (or ever) were disappointed with the posturing juxtaposed against the inactivity. If they had watched the Pretty Boy, full of bluster on 24/7, dance the night away like he was auditioning for Tom Bergeron, they were perturbed. There was some WWE levels of false-bravado going on there.
And that’s the problem with PBF becoming boxing’s name brand product in the American media. A casual fan is not going to appreciate PBF’s subtle ring mastery and defensive tactics. Rather, they see a small man with a big mouth, the Napoleonic type that drives them nuts on a daily basis.
There is a reason that PBF is not popular with fight fans. He’s neither loved nor feared. His skills are respected, and even marveled at, but he rarely if ever brings the fight. Similarly, he is smart to always fight opponents with large independent followings. Subsequently, his fights inevitably have plenty of fan interest. And he becomes a big name by proxy. And by simply winning. Often in the most passive style possible. Always posturing as if he’s so cool and collected that he’s going to beat his opponent without even throwing a punch.
Against Oscar, people tuned in and were turned off. And the shame of it is that they missed some tremendous fights. Kelly Pavlik/Jermain Taylor was arguably the most exciting sporting event, let alone boxing match, that I have seen all year.
Calzaghe/Kessler was more than a showdown. The massive crowd made it feel larger than life. And to the 50,000 plus in attendance, it was. Watching on my TV at home, I could not help but get caught up in the moment. At times, I felt like I was watching a fight from ages ago on an old newsreel.
But for casual American fans, directed by their safe American media outlets, PBF is the name they know. He’s ranked #1 P4P and he’s the over the top ego with the reality shows and the Dancing with the Stars cameos.
People often are not willing to devote themselves in whole to anything. We inhabit a world with an unnatural and unhealthy number of options. If you have the money, you have the means to watch over 1000 television channels. You can read articles on millions of websites (and thank you for choosing this one). But what people tend to do, is sample the perceived “best.”
But the “best” is rarely what conventional wisdom says is the best.
People will watch this fight out of curiosity and under the assumption that they are tuning in for the best fight since May. If PBF dances around Hatton, they may well be turned off once again. They will then miss a whole string of amazing bouts. They will pay no mind to them, since in their own minds they have seen the best the sport has to offer. And, to them, it wasn’t enough.
I equate this to the general consensus I hear on the NBA. People tune in for the Finals and it is inevitably a boring, slow-down style. Exciting plays are limited, because such plays come from risk-taking maneuvers and players free-lancing outside of set plays.
But defense, in boxing and basketball, wins championships.
A sound defense is structured and plays it safe. Just like our lives that we are seeking temporary escape from when we watch sports.
Therefore, I call on the casual fan to watch the flawed fighters! Watch the basketball team that plays no defense! These are the match-ups where the unbelievable will happen.
Consume something that isn’t prepackaged for your dissatisfaction.
Just don’t tell me that you watched Floyd Mayweather, Jr. dance for 12 rounds and weren’t impressed. After all, aren’t you the same John Neilsen that was watching him on “Dancing with the Stars?”
Feel free to agree, or disagree, readers, in the comment section.
Jason Gonzalez: Ricky Hatton doesn't a have a chance in hell when he steps into the ring against Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Hatton is undersized and his offense is redundant. "Hook-n-Hold" as Harold Lederman likes to call him. Mayweather is simply too fast and most importantly he fights you with his brain. Hatton's wide punches can be easily countered and keep in mind that Hatton has no defense.
Jose Luis Castillo was successful against Mayweather because he was a good boxer. Hatton is not a boxer. Mayweather has seen every style and has shown the ability to adjust to whatever is thrown at him.
Hatton cuts easily and was nearly knocked out by the light punching Luis Collazo. According to Collazo, "Hatton was not the same puncher that he was at 140 at 147."
If Mayweather's fragile hands hold up this could be a carbon copy of his massacre of Arturo Gatti. But if Mayweather's hands break, Saturday night could look a lot like his scrap with Carlos Baldomir. Either way Mayweather will be victorious by TKO or UD. Ralph Gonzalez: Will Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton be the man to solve the Mayweather puzzle? I don't think so. As great a fighter as Hatton is, I just don't think he'll be a match for Lil' Floyd's phenomenal speed and reflexes. Hatton has the will and the courage to give Floyd problems but I see Mayweather Jr. dancing circles around the Brit. Mayweather Jr. by unanimous decision over a very lumped up Hatton.
Ronan Keenan: The best way to beat Floyd Mayweather is to back him up. The best way to beat Ricky Hatton is to back him up. Hatton has the style to upend Mayweather, but Floyd likes to fight off the back foot, which will accommodate the Brit's naturally aggressive approach. Hatton W12.
Mike Lynch: I dearly hope that Ricky Hatton can bring the fight to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I hope he puts him into a panic mode that we’ve rarely seen and forces him out of his auto-pilot. However, PBF is bigger, taller and plenty longer. His footwork and technique are too sound, in my opinion, for Hatton to have much success coming at him. I’d love to be wrong, but I see a fight short on fireworks and a unanimous decision to PBF.
Raymond Markarian: It will be interesting to see how Mayweather reacts to a pro Hatton crowd. This fight reminds me of an exciting college football game. It's like Boise State vs. Oklahoma in the BCS. Ricky Hatton has the determination of an unproven undefeated Boise State team and Floyd Mayweather jr. has all the weapons of a true powerhouse like Oklahoma. Hatton should turn this into a scrap. Fighting a rough fight is Ricky Hatton’s forte. Hatton will rush , and throw punches from all angles. So that means Mayweather will be tested even more than he was against De la Hoya. But Mayweather is lethal on inside. He rolls his shoulders on defense and throws combinations to get out of tough spots. If Mayweather forces Hatton to back up, this fight will end in a knockout. In Hatton’s first fight at 147, Luis Collazo nearly knocked Hatton down. Why can’t Mayweather? I think there will be a few low blows thrown and maybe a point taken away from either fighter. A hungry Floyd Mayweather jr. would knock Ricky Hatton down and possibly out. My guess is that Floyd still has an appetite. I choose Floyd Mayweather jr. to win in the later rounds by TKO.
Bob Mladinich: No one is unbeatable, not even the seemingly invincible PBF. He talked himself into a hole that he won't be able to dig himself out of. Even though Hatton has always had plenty of motivation, the Curious George lookalike's tasteless antics and chronic vulgarity has given the classy Brit even more drive and determination to win. Hatton will stick to Mayweather like a wet T-shirt and win a unanimous decision. Hatton W 12.
Tim Starks: Truth is, many people who follow boxing closely think Ricky Hatton's a sitting duck. I disagree with them. I think it comes down to this: Guys with skill who never stop punching and put constant pressure on the sublimely talented Floyd Mayweather are the ones who've had the best luck against him. By contrast, guys with negligible skill who never stop punching and put constant pressure on Mayweather get embarrassed. My wager's on Hatton, a fighter in the pressuring style, having the skill to trouble Mayweather. That said, I'm going with Mayweather by close but conclusive decision. I think it will be very similar to his fight with Oscar De La Hoya — Hatton will have some success bulling Mayweather into the ropes, but Mayweather will do enough to win anyway. I expect it to be moderately entertaining, but well short of a rollercoaster ride of spills and chills.
Michael Woods: I'm not predicting because I don't want to be influenced as I'm covering the fight, and subconsciously root for my pick. I'm rooting mostly for a bangup fight, as always, and am hoping Hatton's pressure forces PBF to stay in the pocket more than usual.
Phil Woolever: To me, Hatton shocking Mayweather isn't as much of an improbability as Pavlik stopping Taylor was. That said, Mayweather remains probably the best trained, most consistent fighter I've ever seen, and Pavlik may have snatched all the Boxing Gods' magic there was left for the year. Picking against Mayweather is always a longshot to me, but I have a feeling Hatton will make it a great event, with about a 30% chance of victory.
The last minute odds figured to stay at a little less than two and a half to one favoring Mayweather, up until when the colorful combatants clashed. Based on respective resumes and experience around the 147-pound division, Hatton should be more around a 10-1 underdog.
Number of truly current elite foes Mayweather has beaten (meaning that opponent actually beat a current elite foe himself) : At least six, way over a dozen victories over then- excellent fighters.
Number of truly elite foes Hatton has beaten : A stretched, faded two including many less demanding early tutorials.
Other predictions for approximate numbers this weekend in Vegas are an equation for a rare holiday scene we could deem “Fisticus”.
Cheapest available ticket on Stubhub 36 hours prior to fight time : $1,306.00 plus service charges (Upper level Row J, fighters will appear much smaller than on TV).
Price for best available Stubhub ringside ticket: $44,447.00 (Floor A, Row C, although the section I’d pick would be “C”, Row K. It’s 33k cheaper, and where most celebrities are seated).
First Bell Weather Forecast : Around 50 windy degrees with a 30% chance of precipitation. Odds it will be raining two way conkers all night in an emerald tinted MGM madhouse : 3-1 against.
Mayweather entrance to include British reference : Greater than 50-50 chance.
Mayweather to mock Hatton by yelling while scoring big shots : More than Fifty – Fifty Cent.
Most probable outcomes by percentage: Mayweather rallies to score controversial, late round TKO while Hatton still ahead on two of three scorecards : 55%
Hatton wins on controversial, injury based TKO prior to 8th frame : 20%
Inspired by increased exposure to potential super-stardom outside boxing, Mayweather does indeed finally deliver on his “toe-to-toe” promise and scores a controversial stoppage around the halfway point: 20%
Controversial Technical Draw, DQ, NC, Etc : 5%
Yes, the key word is controversial. It’s been a while since something crazy went down at a major Vegas rumble. Think Mayweather – Zab Judah.
Odds of more than one physical confrontation between fans who have wagered on Mayweather and fans who have wagered on Hatton prior to official result : Pick ‘em
Reported increase of Las Vegas Metro presence (including undercover in crowd) for recent Mayweather fights : 50+%.
Percentage of off-duty cops who will do something besides hang ringside checking out VIP hostesses and watching fight: a generous 20%.
Percentage of us who are always glad every one of those cops is there when the caca hits the fan : 90% (there’s fools in every fight crowd).
Percentage of VIP hostesses who will stop and sit/crouch to watch the beginning of main event : 90%
Percentage of male fans (without significant other nearby) who will watch crouching VIP hostesses watch fight : 100% (besides me honey, I swear).
Number of better places to be, clothed or unclothed, in Vegas on Saturday night around 10pm EST : Few indeed.
Number of fighters ultimately considerable, barring controversy (yeah right), for Fighter of the Year besides the victor of Mayweather- Hatton : 0
It’s up or down for Lacy and Manfredo the two super middleweights who both were beaten by the great Joe Calzaghe. On Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, one of the fighters will return to the title hunt immediately. The fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view.
“This is a great opportunity for me to get that title back,” said Lacy (22-1, 17 KOs) who lost the IBF title to Calzaghe in overwhelming fashion. “I didn’t really know it had great meaning to me.”
Lacy ventured to Wales with his pulverizing fists that seemed to intimidate opponents before a punch was ever fired. He had that Mike Tyson-like persona that worked until he met Calzaghe. The Welshman cut Lacy’s ego down to flyweight size.
Piston-like jabs, blazing combinations and fleet footwork had Lacy looking for a ghost as Calzaghe used the American bomber’s head for a speed bag.
After 12 rounds there was no doubt who was the superior fighter though it didn’t end in a knockout. It was a rare display of dominance without a knockout.
Next came Manfredo’s turn.
The pride of Providence, Rhode Island had used the Contender reality television show to springboard to a world title fight against Calzaghe. After a solid knockout win over former world titleholder Scott Pemberton, he flew to Wales to match his talent against the Welshman.
The British referee never let the audience get a definitive look at whether Calzaghe was truly the better fighter, though it appeared he was. After Manfredo evaded 11 punches out of a 12-punch combination, the referee waved the fight over.
“I didn’t get a shot against Calzaghe,” said Manfredo (28-4, 13 KOs) during a conference call. “A lot of people seen the fight.”
Though Manfredo would have loved a different outcome, he’s not crying about it.
“Calzaghe is just looking on top of his game,” said Manfredo after watching Calzaghe beat Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler.
The Providence boxer knows he must vanquish Lacy to prove he belongs in the elite of the super middleweight division.
“I go into every fight as if it’s a must win especially with this fight,” said Manfredo who fights under the Contender banner. “I’m actually excited about it because I get to be in there with one of the best.”
The son of the great Julio Cesar Chavez knocked out Ray Sanchez to set up a showdown with the Contender’s Alfonso Gomez next March and has Mexican fans ballyhooing for the next generation of “El Gran Mexicano.”
Is it too much too soon?
“I don’t see anything more than an ordinary fighter,” said Art Carillo, a trainer from Riverside, California who saw Chavez Jr. and Omar Chavez the younger brother both train before turning professional. “Maybe he can beat Alfonso Gomez but even that might be too much for Chavez Jr.”
With a style very similar to his father’s, Chavez marched through Sanchez’s defense with perfectly aimed left hooks to the body and head. That left an opening for the right cross that Chavez fired to the New Mexico fighter’s jaw. Several times during the fight Sanchez was stunned. At 1:33 of the sixth round a vicious combination of hooks and uppercuts floored Sanchez for good.
“Whoever they put in front of me I’ll fight,” said Chavez, the son of Mexico’s great Julio Cesar Chavez.
Carillo sees flaws in Chavez.
“He doesn’t throw a jab,” said Carillo.
In a junior bantamweight match, Jorge Arce stopped Thailand’s Medgoen Sangsurat with a left hook to the rib cage 48 seconds into the first round. The Thai fighter, who has the only knockout win over Manny Pacquiao, was unable to recover from the blow. Now Arce faces former world champion Martin Castillo in late March.
“It’s going to be a great match,” said Arce.
WBO junior flyweight titleholder Ivan Calderon experienced another close fight. This time the great Puerto Rican boxer used his superior movement to keep Mexico’s determined Juan Esquer from mauling him. It was a unanimous decision win for Calderon whose move up in weight has made his fights more competitive.
Esquer, 21, had just beaten another flashy boxer Kermin Guardia in Miami about a month ago. His aggressive brawling style proves pretty effective against the quick-moving boxers that are plenty in the 108-pound weight division.
Calderon, 32, is getting older and needs to fight the other titleholders in his division before it’s too late. A match against IBF titleholder Ulises Solis, WBC titleholder Edgar Sosa and WBA titleholder Juan Reveco would be financially rewarding and give fans a peek at his skills.
Donaire wins too
IBF flyweight titleholder Nonito Donaire showed the boxing world that he wasn’t a “flash in the pan” with a dominating performance that saw him hit Mexico’s Luis Maldonado with resounding shots from the first round on.
Donaire had knocked out former titleholder Vic Darchinyan with a single left hook last summer, but some people felt the Filipino fighter won by a lucky punch.
Not any more.
The Filipino boxer cracked Maldonado with left hooks, right uppercuts and overhand rights that slowly broke down the Mexican veteran’s resilience and opened up cuts early in the fight. By the fifth round it was apparent that the punches were making Maldonado wobbly. A final flurry of blows prompted the referee to stop the beating at 1:16 of the eighth round.
“I want to unify all of the titles,” said Donaire. “I want to be the first Filipino to be undisputed champion.”
Referee Charles Dwyer did a superlative job of supervising the fight. It’s not often that a referee’s work is noticeable for keeping the fight going without interfering at the wrong time. Dwyer was extremely capable as the third man in the ring.
WBC junior middleweight titleholder Vernon “The Viper” Forrest knocked out Italy’s Michele Piccirillo with a right hand blast in the 11th round. Forrest wants a rematch with Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga who has two victories over him and recently beat Fernando Vargas.
IBO light heavyweight titleholder Antonio Tarver fired an 11-punch combination that knocked down Danny Santiago for the count in the fourth round. Tarver’s trainer Jimmy Williams implored him to attack rather than lay back in counter-punch mode. For the first time since he knocked out Roy Jones Jr. in 2004, Tarver actually looked capable of utilizing a comprehensive attack. His trainer was correct.
“I’ll fight anybody,” said Tarver after the fight.
WBC light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson was in the audience hoping to lure Tarver into a showdown. Tarver was noncommittal in accepting a fight with Dawson.
In Santa Ynez, California Tjiuana’s Alfredo Angulo was scheduled to fight Texan James Kirkland in a junior middleweight collision of young power-hitters. But their management didn’t like the idea because both have marketing appeal with their power fists. Angulo demolished Archak Ter-Meliksetian in one round with a vicious right hand followed with three more blows. Kirkland was also impressive coming off the deck to drop his opponent Allen Conyers twice en route to a knockout victory.
Their frustrations were heightened last week when Wayne McCullough’s bout with Kiko Martinez was cancelled after the Spaniard failed to make the contracted weight. But hot prospect and Derry native John Duddy will be looking to please the knowledgeable crowd at the historic venue when he meets seasoned veteran Howard Eastman on December 8.
Former world title challenger Eastman is expected to be Duddy’s sternest test to-date, and the Guyana native is a welcome challenge for the Ulsterman. Since his punishing victory over the tough Yori Boy Campas fifteen months ago, Duddy has been matched with a series of limited opponents. Most recently, he disposed of the 19-year-old Prince Arron in a two-round blowout last October.
It appeared that Duddy’s management were opting to keep their charge out of danger until the fruition of a mooted 160-pound world title challenge against Kelly Pavlik, but Saturday’s opponent is undoubtedly a serious threat to the Irishman’s glossy record. Eastman is a crafty 47-bout veteran who has competed with the some of the best middleweights in the world.
“I think Howard Eastman has fought in a different ball-park than what I’ve been in,” says a deferential Duddy ahead of his debut appearance in Northern Ireland.
The London-based “Battersea Bomber” was unbeaten in 32 fights before losing a close points decision to then-WBA titlist William Joppy in 2001. Eastman had to wait four years for his next big opportunity, which came against the pound-for-pound king Bernard Hopkins. Another points loss dented Eastman’s reputation Stateside and seemed to deflate his ambitions as he looked jaded in subsequent defeats to the highly-regarded Arthur Abraham and Edison Miranda.
Yet he showed renewed energy in out-pointing Evans Ashira last April, before stumbling to an upset decision loss against Wayne Elcock five months later. Eastman’s handlers said jetlag hampered his performance, but the defeat may have been evidence that his days as a top contender are over.
Eastman has been described as the best British fighter never to win a world crown, so it’s fitting that he has stated his fondness for the movie On The Waterfront, in which Marlon Brando’s character, Terry Malloy famously laments his life, which has taken him from possible ring glory to obscurity.
Still, Eastman’s performances have been so uneven throughout his career that it is hard to gauge how much he has left in the tank. Even his trainer, former world title challenger Robert McCracken, is never certain of the 36-year-old’s mentality.
“If the right Howard Eastman turns up then he can win [on Saturday],” believes McCracken. “In fact he has the ability to beat just about anyone. The wrong Eastman turned up against Elcock. One thing the fans can be assured of is that this is going to be a great fight. Duddy’s an exciting fighter and Howard hits very hard, [but] there are questions for both fighters.”
Duddy has had his own potential queried after his bloody struggle against Campas. The Mexican is by far the most accomplished opponent on Duddy’s 22-0 (17 KOs) record, but Eastman is closer to his prime and should provide an even sterner task.
The Irishman knows that an impressive display this weekend will help silence his critics.
“The toughest assignment up to now for me was Yori Boy,” admits the 28-year-old.“He had vast experience over me and Howard is no different. If I can make it an easier night for myself I certainly will. But I don’t think it’s going to be an easy night.”
Despite a long amateur career, Duddy has rarely employed the finer aspects of the sweet science in the paid ranks and has shown a tendency for wielding wide hooks that have left him prone to counter attacks. In an effort to improve his defensive ability and prevent career-shortening brawls, Duddy enlisted the help of Don Turner earlier this year and has been preparing under the tutelage of the renowned trainer in North Carolina.
“John was a boxer before as an amateur, but he got off track,” says Turner. “He’s gone back to doing what he did as an amateur boxer, and he’s not getting hit as much.”
The Belfast crowd will certainly be hoping that Turner can help eradicate some of Duddy’s defensive lapses, providing he leaves a few flaws to quench their passion for excitement.
Duddy-Eastman and bouts from the undercard featuring unbeaten prospects Paul McCloskey and Stephen Haughian can be seen live on RTE.ie from 4pm ET.
If such a scenario transpires, 2007 would nonetheless represent a stellar year for Hatton and one of the best of any modern-day British fighter. His twelve-month résumé would make impressive reading: travelled to the US to out-point the previously unbeaten Juan Urango; blasted out Jose Luis Castillo in what was supposed to be a pick ’em contest; and competed in a true megafight with one of the greatest fighters of the last decade.
Such accomplishments are doubly significant given the ignominious reputation UK fighters have for fighting overseas. Even so, Hatton may still lack acknowledgement as the top active fighter in Britain.
Joe Calzaghe can lay claim to that title after his stirring victory over the undefeated titlist Mikkel Kessler last month, even though the Welshman has never fought in the US.
It has been a long time since Britain has produced two leading fighters. Lennox Lewis and Naseem Hamed were both big draws Stateside, but both struggled for respect and the “Prince” failed dismally against the only elite fighter he faced in Marco Antonio Barrera.
Hatton’s credibility within the boxing community is undoubtedly sturdier than Hamed’s ever was, but how does it rank with Calzaghe’s?
“Both fighters have quite similar career profiles when you think about it,” reckons Ian McNeilly of BritishBoxing.net. “Calzaghe is the only Brit ever to have held all four belts from the major sanctioning bodies and this counts for something. Then again, Hatton is a genuine two-weight world champion and, just as Calzaghe is ‘the man’ at 168, Hatton was at 140.
“If Hatton beats Mayweather on Saturday, one could argue he would be the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport. If he loses, the mystical ‘0’ in the loss column disappears and Calzaghe would have to be rated more highly.”
Hatton has already defeated Calzaghe in the race for Boxer of the Year honors from the British Boxing Board of Control, but that distinction only considered results up to August 31. The fighters will be competing against each other again on Sunday when they will contest the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The accolade goes to the sportsperson who receives the most votes from the public and Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton is the currently the oddsmakers’ favourite to triumph. But Calzaghe and Hatton are expected to battle it out for second place in what promises to be a tight race.
It’s testament to both men’s achievements that the public would hold them both in such high esteem, but the debate rages as to who is the better fighter.
“I would rate Hatton above Calzaghe,” argues Boxing Monthly Editor Glyn Leach. “He is a two-weight champion and he has not been afraid to travel overseas in search of titles. The “world” in world champion means a lot to me.”
But not everyone agrees.
“I would rate Calzaghe and Hatton dead level, could not split them,” says Graham Houston of Fightwriter.com. “Saturday night’s fight will make the difference.”
Yet even though both fighters are vying for recognition as their island’s best, there are no traces of animosity. Calzaghe knows that a victory for Hatton on December 8 would take some of the attention off his own achievements, but the prospect of seeing his countryman partake in such a superfight stirs his nationalistic pride.
“It will be a great end to the year if Ricky can go out there and do the business,” says the super-middleweight champion. “The whole of Britain will be behind him. I will be there cheering him on and I know that he can do it.”
I click it and it leads me to a video of Floyd Mayweather Jr. talking into a microphone (looks like he is on a radio program) and without going into too much detail (the majority of his words consisted of several M***** F****'s along with some unintelligible slang terms) I can only say that as much as I have tried to defend the guy in the past I would have to say that anyone who watches that video and tells me, as a result, that they hate Floyd Mayweather it would be hard for me to put up any more arguments on his behalf.
I used to tell people how I had trained in the gym alongside him a couple times out in Las Vegas and how I had talked with on a couple occasions. I always said how cool he was, how willing to talk he was. He came across well to me but now, after watching this video and seeing him on HBO's 24/7, it's hard to defend the guy.
Put it this way, when people watch him on HBO they usually comment on how immature he comes across. They also talk about how his arrogance and flashiness is a complete turn off. Well, the video I watched him in today makes his performances on 24/7, by comparison, look like he's a cross between Urkel and Howdy Doody. He is that bad, that ignorant acting, that arrogant, and that much of a turn off.
(The fact that he is a soon to be thirty one year old father (several times over) makes his immaturity and ignorance seem almost alarming.)
I still believe he will beat Hatton on Saturday but even if he does it will not change the fact that he will have become -if he hasn't already- the poster boy for examples of why people don't like boxing anymore. This is why he will never be beloved.
In twenty years Sugar Ray Leonard will still be revered as a true legend...while Floyd will not draw three autograph requests at a fight, because of examples like THIS.
Hagler will always be bowed to. Larry Holmes will always get respect. Hearns, Duran, Pryor, Arguello and a thousand other all time greats will still be revered long after they leave this earth.
But I have the feeling that, as talented of a fighter as he is, Floyd will be lucky to get Panama Lewis or Crocodile (Tyson's old hanger-on) to hang out with him that far down the line. You know how crazy it is? Watching Floyd today made me actually think how right his father may have been about him all those times he spoke out about his son.
And, for the record, I would say it is a 100-1 shot that any of those ridiculous yes-men that laugh at every attempt at a joke by him will be nowhere to be seen once his fame subsides and the money stays put in his pocket. Listening to those idiots constantly laugh at every joke and back slap him and yes him to death is almost as irritating as listening to his ridiculous monologues.
Former light heavyweight contender Scully is one of the best young trainers in the game.For information on the Iceman's soon to be finished/released "The Iceman Diaries" you can contact him directly at JohnScullyICEMAN@AOL.COM
PBF explained his popularity in a recent conference call.
"It's the right chemistry and the right team," he said. "My team has really went out there and went to work for me, not just inside the ring but outside the ring, conducting business. I'm going to keep dedicating myself. I'm going to keep just working hard and eventually everybody will open their eyes and see that I really want it and I need to be at the top...one day I said, I'm going to be a pay-per-view attraction and here I am today. I truly believe that we're going to do over a million homes. It took a lot of work. Kelly Swanson my publicist is breaking her neck to try to get my face anywhere that she could possibly get it and Leonard and Al (Haymon), there's a good chemistry and, of course, Richard Schaeffer and Oscar de la Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions. They do a great of a job and, I've got my own company now, so all those things together, mixed in one is what pushed Mayweather to the top and, of course, the main thing is that my skills and my hard work."
A lot of that is true.
The marketing of Mayweather has been damned masterful. The "Dancing" stint was prime product placement. All those folks deserve a tip of the cap, as does Floyd, for having an amazing capacity to work his tail off.
Now, I don't have the means to commission a poll, but I am curious about this popularity factor.
I wonder, how many people are going to buy the fight Saturday spurred mainly or partially by the desire to see Floyd lose?
How many of those buyers are going to buy the show, because they love to hate Floyd?
I first recall becoming aware of the "love to hate" phenomenon back around 1980. There was a late night TV soap called "Dallas" that starred Larry Hagman as amoral Texas oilman JR Ewing, who by hook or more often by crook would bend, break, and steamroll the rules to get what he wanted.
He had an undeniable charisma, though, and if you couldn't take your eyes off him. He was a tiny bit lovable, but mostly repulsive, and he commanded attention.
PBF has a bit of that, I think. (With a much greater helping of charisma and far less repulsiveness.)
PBF has plenty of admirers--and let's put it on the table, the love him or loathe him breakdown does along racial lines, to a large extent--and also a healthy contingent of people who don't care for his pronouncements at being the best boxer that ever was, and his cash flashing habit.
The "love him" camp has been growing, sort of like Huckabee's poll numbers. Yes, PBF has grown in the last two, three, four years. He doesn't appear in the police blotter for out-of-the-ring fracases. Humility creeps into his speech more than it did.
Here's how he closed his final conference call.
"I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the media because, I mean you guys are the ones that helped Floyd Mayweather get to the level that he's at over the years, writing all the articles and I appreciate, I mean everybody," he said. "I really, and I truly mean that and thanks for supporting me. My family appreciates you guys. Be there December 8; if you can't, buy pay-per-view because you, this go-around I have to give you guys a toe-to-toe battle and I'm not going to let you guys down. I'm going to go out there and perform well and all my U.K. fans, all my U.K. writers, I appreciate all the articles and continue to write about Ricky Hatton and continue to write about Floyd Mayweather and I'll see you guys next week."
The cynic might argue that he's gotten wise to how the PR game is played. Possible. But this man has such a healthy ego, and a propensity to say what's on his mind, I don't see him spouting this "thanks to the press" line unless he feels it.
I wrote all that on Wednesday afternoon, before I received an email link, from Iceman John Scully, to a Youtube video making the rounds. The video features Floyd, in a profanity laden, N-word littered boastfest. He's yapping to a DJ, DJ J-Nice, and he drops m-bombs, racial slurs, calls Hatton a f****t, and generally acts like a world-class thug. He proclaims his superiority over any an all in the boxing ring, tells listeners how filthy rich he is, and basically rants like a caricature of a rapper.
I won't post the link, because the publisher likes to keep it clean here, but you'll be able to find it easily.
It's a gross showing, to my taste.
I have to acknowledge that there is a culture gap at work here, a culture canyon actually that Evel Knevel couldn't traverse in a sky cycle.
I'm Caucasian, and don't know how hard it is to be systematically oppressed for hundreds of years, to come from a beaten down neighborhood that reeks of hoplessness, and have doors pre-slammed in my face simply because my skin is dark. I would never presume to say that I have any clue what that is like. I do think I understand a tiny bit that people who have risen from that atmosphere might be inclined to shout it loud and proud and defiantly, that they've persevered, and bucked the odds. But without being black, I'll never know the sting of the race gap in our country. So maybe we're destined to never meet in the middle, and find common ground on this sort of behavior.
The hip hop culture, the hyper-sexualized, hyper-violent arm of it, has popularized this sort of tasteless rant, in which those that have "made it" advertise their net worth and standing in the world, but this Youtube outing is over the top even in that milieu.
It made me rethink my line of thinking, what I wrote before I saw that Youtube.
It's now screamingly obvious that Floyd is playing both sides now, acting in one manner for one segment of the nation, and in another manner for another segment.
Is that wrong? Maybe, maybe not.
We all have different facets to our personality.
Certainly politicians tailor their presentation and message to their audience and PBF is always vying for votes, in the form of PPV buys.
So I don't think it's that surprising that these different guises are in use.
But what does disappoint me is how Mayweather is so fixated on the almighty dollar. To him, it's almighty, and to me, that's sacrilege. I'm not a Bible thumper, I'm actually of the Bill Maher school on the subject of religion. But it's almost obscene to hear Mayweather obsess about money, wave around wads of it, and send the message to the kids that it's money that matters, that if you make loads of cash you are a success.
Hey, dismiss me as a hater cause I'm not rolling in it.
I really hope that PBF sees that he's wasting time that could be sent sending out a positive message to kids, instead of tooting his own horn to such a sad, sickening degree.
His father has said repeatedly that money has gotten into Floyd's head, and changed him. I don't know if it's money, or what, but that video...
Man, that is some sad, sick stuff. And for anyone that doesn't see it as such, maybe you should examine your views and taste, and consider that you've become numb to stuff that should turn you off.
I believe the only way PBF can see some light, and get out of this obsession with money, and this overwhelming need to proclaim his worthiness, is to taste a loss in the ring.
Will Hatton be the one to do it, I don't know, but a loss, in the long run, could be the best thing that ever happened to Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather.
If fans expect the two world champions to emerge clowning and spitting out controversial dialogue to hype the fight, that’s all over now.
When Mayweather and Hatton (43-0, 31 KOs) jump into the prize ring on Saturday Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand, the boxing world will see two of the best fighters pound for pound battle for riches beyond the imagination.
Whoever wins gets even richer.
Except for a certain prizefighter from East Los Angeles, few professional boxers ever achieve double digit millions for a single prizefight. Mayweather should make well past $20 million while Hatton can probably pass $15 million with ease depending on his pay-per-view totals in Europe.
Sorry MMA fighters, this financial bracket is beyond your dreams.
“They call me money Mayweather,” said Mayweather (38-0, 24 KOs) while training inside his Las Vegas boxing gym. “If you want to make money you come see me.”
Once more Mayweather seeks to pass the 1 million pay-per-view mark.
“Floyd Mayweather will be the first one to do it,” said Schaefer, who calculates more ways to make money than any other promoter. “He has a good chance of doing it.”
According to Schaefer’s research Mayweather-Hatton should surpass 1 million pay-per-views, something that even Oscar De La Hoya never achieved.
You can blame it on Mayweather. From the first press conference the fighter considered the best boxer in the universe came blazing with taunts, brags and silliness.
It all began in Hollywood at Universal Studios back during a hot October day next to the Hard Rock Café. Mayweather was at his mocking best as he grabbed Hatton’s crown from his head and proceeded to berate and insult the great British fighter.
Hatton chuckled with amusement.
About an hour later, when most of the media had slowly filtered out of the Hard Rock Café, Mayweather and his crew merrily marched through the iconic restaurant chanting about “smelling the blood of an Englishman” as Hatton comfortably sat in a large booth with his mates after a good meal.
Dancing with the Stars
Despite knowing he was about to face undefeated Hatton, the Las Vegas resident chose to participate on the Dancing With the Stars a reality television show. It was a daunting task considering it was a sport he was not familiar with.
“It’s no problem,” boasted Mayweather, 30, as he mixed dancing with the beautiful Karina Smirnoff and boxing with his uncle Roger Mayweather. “When you got skills like me, it’s not a problem at all.”
But despite obvious athletic abilities Mayweather and Smirnoff were eliminated by the television audience vote. Now the former junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, junior middleweight and current welterweight champion finally had time to concentrate 100 percent on the British fighter known as “The Hitman.”
Leonard Ellerbe, who advises Mayweather and works in his corner during fights, said dancing on the television reality show actually pumped up the fighter for the boxing showdown.
“Floyd loves challenges,” said Ellerbe who has watched his friend beat De La Hoya, Carlos Baldomir and Zab Judah in succession. “He doesn’t like to lose in anything. That’s just the way he is.”
Meanwhile Hatton headed straight for his gym in Manchester to prepare. There was no dancing involved.
Seeking to repeat the massive success of the De La Hoya showdown with Mayweather this past May, Golden Boy Promotions decided to finance another HBO production called Countdown to Mayweather-Hatton 24/7.
“It’s well worth the money,” said Schaefer, who gave the go-ahead to finance the weekly documentary on the fighter’s preparations in and out of the gym. “The feedback we received from this one and the shows we did with Oscar were very positive.”
De La Hoya’s fight with Mayweather shattered all previous pay-per-view numbers for a boxing match including heavyweight-boxing records with more than 2.5 million pay-per-views.
“We think we can break 1 million pay-per-views this time according to our research,” said Schaefer.
Whoever wins moves on toward another mega fight possibly with De La Hoya that will take place in Dodger Stadium. If not the Chavez Ravine site, then the Los Angeles Coliseum or the Rose Bowl are alternatives.
“It’s something that Oscar has said he definitely wants to do for the fans,” Schaefer said.
De La Hoya’s opponent for the fight slated in early May 2008 will probably make more than $20 million.
During a media workout held in Las Vegas on Wednesday Nov. 28, both fighters seemed in perfect shape and perfect health as they approach fight night.
Hatton sparred with junior welterweight prospect Rock Allen and amateur star Carl Darden to simulate Mayweather’s speed.
Allen’s father Nazeem Richardson, who also trains Bernard Hopkins, said that both Allen and Darden can’t emulate exactly Mayweather’s style or habits, but they bring youth.
“You can never emulate another boxer exactly. But both of these guys are young and the things they can do like not get hit are things an older fighter might not be able to do,” said Richardson while in the underground training center in Zuffa headquarters where Ultimate Fighting championship MMA fighters train regularly. “They both have speed and are willing to mix it up with Hatton.”
Allen, who is undefeated as a pro after 12 fights, said working with Hatton in that fighter’s Manchester gym was an experience.
“You can’t help but learn from a guy like that who brings so much pressure,” said Allen.
With his narrow slit eyes Hatton looks like a street ruffian and calmly lets everyone know that he’s not able to talk much. Training takes precedence. He expects a cat and mouse kind of affair with Mayweather.
“He’s going to try and wear me down,” says Hatton, 29, as he drips perspiration from a previous workout. “That’s what he thinks.”
Across town maybe three miles south, Mayweather’s crew are preparing for his arrival in the gym he made this year. About 25 people not including the media are waiting for the current WBC welterweight champion to step through the small door where two huge bodyguards make sure that intruders or possible threats are shooed away.
Ninety minutes later Mayweather arrives to speak briefly to the press as he gets his fragile hands wrapped and gloves put on. He’s no longer joking about his pending fight but has a concentrated look like a doctor about to perform intricate surgery.
Ellerbe says that Mayweather has slipped into automatic. It’s not a strange venture for the fighter who’s experienced more than a dozen world title defenses in his career.
“You have to understand that Floyd was a world champion when Ricky Hatton was in his eighth or ninth pro fight,” said Ellerbe whose straightforward responses are common. “There’s nothing that Floyd has not been through already. But Ricky Hatton is going to find out what it’s like.”
Mayweather is about to spar with Lovemore N’Dou and Carlos Baldomir, both are pressure fighters with the latter a former world champion who actually fought Mayweather before.
“I know this kid is going to come out and bring his best,” said Mayweather soberly about Hatton. “I’m working when he’s asleep and then I work out again.”
Ellerbe has seen this before where his charge transforms from a one-man publicity machine to a fully prepared warrior.
“He knows exactly what he has to do,” Ellerbe says.