March 20, 2006

Open Letter from
Stevie Johnston to Ricky Hatton

Dear Ricky,

I have all the respect in the world for you and what you’ve accomplished in boxing. You are a true champion with a big heart. I’m writing this letter to call you on some of the comments you made a few weeks ago as a guest on ESPN.

You said that you’ve come to America to train and fight, let the American public have a chance to see you in action, and test your skills against the best fighters America has to offer in your weight class.

I am the best available light welterweight contender in America, bar none. Floyd (Mayweather) is moving up to fight Zab (Judah), forget about Chop Chop (Corley). He’s had three title shots in the last three years and lost them all to (Miguel) Cotto, Mayweather and Judah.

You didn’t come all the way to the United States to fight a non-American, did you? If you sincerely want to fight the best American light welterweight May 13 at Foxwoods, on HBO, well, I’m the man!

Check out my pedigree: I’m the present 140-pound IBO champion. I held the WBC lightweight belt twice between 1997 and 2000 with seven successful title defenses. I’ve beaten six world champions – Sharmba Mitchell, Jean Ba[tiste Mendy, Saul Duran, Cesar Bazan, Angel Manfredy and James Page – seven if you include Jose Luis Castillo. I really beat him, but they changed it to a draw a half-hour after the fight ended.

You’re tough, real tough, but I’ve overcome a car accident that could have killed me. It kept me out of the ring for 2 ½ years. I went right through the windshield and had to have more than 100 stitches in my face.

First, I read that you were going to fight Juan Lazcano, who ended up breaking his finger in training, and now I’ve heard you’re going to fight a mandatory defense against (Naoufel Ben) Rabah. I thought you wanted to fight the best American? Lazcano’s from Mexico, Rabah’s Australian.

I was born and raised in Denver (CO) and now live in Vero Beach (FL). You can’t get any more American than me. I’ll wear red, white and blue trunks with stars and stripes if you like. Whatever it takes to get you in the ring, let’s get it on.

Styles make fights. Hatton-Johnston is a classic match-up. You’re a power puncher; I’m a boxer. You’ve never fought anybody like me. I’ll show you things you’ve never seen before. HBO loves me. Boxing fans all over the world know what I bring every time I go up those three steps.

Ricky, it’s time for you to back up what you said on television. Are you “The Hitman,” or “The Hidden Man?” Accept my challenge, Ricky, or go back to England with your tail between your legs.

Respectfully yours,

Stevie “Lil’ But Bad” Johnston