Fighters are dreamers, men who relentlessly chase the end of the rainbow during those endless hours of solitary work. Two men who caught their dreams last June will go toe-to-toe next Saturday night at Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield, England, chasing other dreams … hoping to perpetuate the dreams they caught.
Ricky Hatton snatched a dream out of the air last June by overwhelming junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu en route to an 11th round TKO. Carlos Maussa grabbed his dream, too, stopping Vivian Harris in the seventh round in Atlantic City. They each won a world title — Hatton the IBF belt, Maussa the WBA belt. It will be the first title defense for both.
“Obviously, in beating Kostya I reached a lifetime goal,” Hatton said. “Winning a world championship. That was a fantastic win, a fantastic night. I want more of those nights.”
For Maussa, reality has lived up to his lifelong dream as well. “Since June 25, 2005 to the present, when I became champion, all the things in my life are great,” the native of Monteria, Cordoba, Colombia said. “My whole life I was dreaming for this. Since I became a professional boxer my dreams are being realized, little by little.”
Now they are on their way, as boxers do, to chase other dreams. Unification is the name of these latest dreams.
Hatton, of course, has that sparkling 39-0 record, a journey through the world of boxing that has produced 29 knockouts and, really, no close calls.
Now, he is looking to Maussa, 19-2 (17), and his WBA belt and he is also already looking — and looking with eagle eyes — at the man many consider to be the best in the division, WBC champ Floyd Mayweather.
“With a victory over Maussa, it will make a bout with Mayweather more of a possibility,” Hatton said. “I can’t speak more highly of Floyd and his boxing ability and what he’s accomplished over the years.”
But if he is looking (and dreaming) of a Mayweather moment, is Hatton taking Maussa lightly?
“No matter which way you look at it, this is a unification fight,” Hatton said. “Carlos Maussa throws a lot and has a good work rate. I have a good work rate. I don’t think anyone is going to fall asleep.”
Least of all Hatton, who has gained level of respect for his opponent and expects a tough brawl. “I’ve been watching tapes of Maussa and he’s a very difficult customer,” the Manchester native said. “He’s got a very, very good chin, which he showed against Vivian Harris. He’s very, very heavy handed and he has a very awkward style. I don’t think he knows what he’s going to do next. He’s a good puncher and he’s very tenacious.”
For the 34-year-old Maussa, who turned pro at 28, unification is also very much in his dreams. “It will be a great deal of pride and satisfaction and also a great victory for all the people that are contributing to help me unify the titles,” Maussa said. “I think I will win and this will be a great step in my life as a professional boxer. I will win against Hatton based on my excellent preparation. I have never prepared myself so well and seriously. I never felt so great before like now for this fight against Hatton.”
Maussa believes that his conditioning will be a major advantage, even against an undefeated opponent who has fought into the 10th round on seven occasions.
“I see myself imposing my will against Hatton as the fight progresses,” the WBA champ said. “I will be in my best condition for the final rounds. I’m ready to end this fight when I determine the end will be. November 26th nobody will be able to beat Carlos Maussa.”
Ah, sweet dreams … sweet dreams by all fighters.
Hatton and Maussa will come together, meet head-on in a clash of fists and wills. That is a given. But, after that, where will the dreams go? Which direction? Which continent?
Hatton has never fought outside England, but said he is ready … ready to chase this latest dream, this unification dream, anywhere and everywhere.
“Some of the best pound-for-pound fighters are in the junior welterweight division,” Hatton said. “There’s a lot of great fights out there. I’ve had 39 fights, but I’ve only just turned 27. I’m in my prime. I’ve said from day one I want to fight the big names. There are big fights out there and I’ll be over there [to the United States] next year to fight Mayweather.
“[Mayweather] said he would come to Manchester and give me a whipping,” Hatton said. “He appears to have changed his mind. Now he’s not so keen on coming. But a ring is a ring as far as I’m concerned. I have no qualms about going over there.”
Hatton even believes/dreams that he could become a popular fighter in the United States one day. And perhaps so.
“My style is entertaining — whether you are from England or the United States … or Russia or Australia or Timbuktu,” the IBF champ said. “As long as you are a boxing fan, it doesn’t matter where a fighter is from. I’ve always been very driven inside. People say Ricky is a good fighter, but he doesn’t want to come out of England, he doesn’t want to come out of Manchester. But I will fight anywhere to get this done.”
The dreams are there — there for Hatton and for Maussa. Another dream is the legacy, the dream of leaving your name among the sport’s legends. These fighters almost certainly have those dreams. Let’s face it. Almost every fighter who laces up the high tops and throws a hook and eats some leather has those dreams, tucked safely away, deep inside. For so many, the dreams disintegrate into the night air within a few fights. For men like Hatton and Maussa, the dreams are still there, still alive. But these men have a long way to go to reach those dreams of a special legacy.
But those dreams are there. Still there. Still strong.
“I would fight Kostya again,” Hatton said. “That would be a pleasure. But that would be up to him. It would be a pleasure and an honor because he’s a great champion. The last one was a great fight. I think this would be the same again. But that would be up to him. Something like that helps your legacy. Names like Mayweather and [Miguel] Cotto define your legacy as a fighter.”
Saturday night in England two men will go toe-to-toe, fist-to-face, exchanging body blow for body blow. Two men with dreams … big dreams … ever-expanding dreams. Some dreams will be knocked about a bit on this night, others will flourish.
It is the stuff of fighters, the stuff of dreams.