Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton reminds some of the old prohibition era fighters who could drink you under the table or beat you in the alley.
Think of guys like Ted “Kid” Lewis, Mickey Walker and Harry Greb. Those guys were two-fisted fighters as well as two-fisted drinkers.
Walker and Greb supposedly had a better tussle in the alley after arguing in a speakeasy about who won their fight earlier in the evening.
Hatton’s like that.
Now the British pugilist makes his debut under the bright lights of Las Vegas against IBF junior welterweight titleholder Juan Urango at the Paris Hotel and Casino. It takes place Saturday Jan. 20. HBO will televise the Top Rank card.
Last time Hatton was in town he out-drank a gaggle of Latino boxing fans that were exchanging beers and jokes with the affable boxer. One by one they stumbled out of the bar mumbling to themselves. But not one held it against the Brit who seemed as sober as a church marm.
You got to admire a guy who can drink like that, then train like a demon to sweat out all of the poisons before fighting like a hellion against all comers.
“He’s an exciting fighter,” said Shane Mosley.
But Urango has plans of his own. The Colombian strongman with a neck that looks like it could be a shock absorber for a beer wagon grabbed the vacant belt that was deserted by Hatton. He’s eager.
“I’m looking forward to fighting Ricky Hatton,” said Urango (17-0-1, 13 KOs) during a telephone press conference. “We’ve been training very hard for almost three months now.”
Urango faced a number of solid junior welterweights including Ubaldo Hernandez and Mighty Mike Arnaoutis. He blew out Hernandez and had major problems against the Greek-American fighter who fought him to a draw in a televised bout. Without a doubt this is Urango’s biggest test.
“I’m not an ordinary boxer, I’ve got knowledge. So I’m not going to talk about other people,” Urango says. “I respect Mr. Hatton greatly.”
Now based in Florida, it’s unknown whether the Colombian can match Hatton drink for drink. But a few feel he can match the Hitman punch for punch, especially Hatton himself.
“He’s not going to take a backward step which is very similar to me in many ways,” Hatton (40-0, 30 KOs) said during the press conference call. “This can’t fail to make an exciting fight because I don’t take a step backward, neither does Juan Urango.”
The last time Hatton faced a juggernaut of a fighter was against future Hall of Fame puncher Kostya Tszyu on June 4, 2005. At the time the British boxer was still deemed unproven.
Boxing fans all over the world saw Hatton maul Tszyu like a pit bull chews on a floor rug. He left the Siberian icon in tatters.
Tszyu quit before the last round could begin. The world was shocked because it was relatively a close fight. Even the scorecards agreed that the match was relatively close with one judge scoring it 105-104 and another 106-103 for Hatton. No matter, the great Tszyu quit on his stool.
After that fight, Hatton celebrated in his family’s pub.
When Hatton fights you can bet he’s going to attack with his arms flailing, his head moving and punches landing wherever there is flesh and bone. He fights with a ferocity that old-timers profess Greb and Walker possessed. There’s a thin layer of vengeance beneath that good-guy veneer of Hatton.
“[Fans] like to see a good family man, they like to see good feet firmly on the ground, which is the reputation that Oscar (De La Hoya) has in the United States. He has the reputation that I have in England,” said Hatton.
But inside the ring, the goody guy veneer is stripped and Hatton fights like he’s in a prison yard.
“I don’t fight like a typical British fighter. My style is probably more of a Mexican-type fighter,” Hatton confesses.
And, oh yeah, he’s comfortable in a pub as well.
Mexican fight fans are nodding their heads all over the country.
Jose Luis Castillo
Lost in the shuffle, perhaps purposely, former lightweight world champion Jose Luis Castillo has rarely been mentioned as the co-main event when he faces Herman Ngoudjo on Jan. 20.
Maybe it’s his failure to make weight in his last three bouts that have forced the fight promoters to keep Castillo in the background. But if he wins and Hatton wins, an eventual clash of titans will take place in the summer.
Castillo failed consecutive times to make weight in scheduled bouts with Diego “Chico” Corrales and with lightweight contender Rolando Reyes. But those opponents agreed to let the bloated lightweight fight above the agreed upon weight. In his last scheduled bout with Corrales, the square-jawed Castillo failed to make the agreed championship weight limit that scuttled a mega fight to be shown on Showtime.
Top Rank Promotions has been monitoring Castillo’s weight and hopes the added five pounds can be the buffer the Mexican fighter needs.
Meanwhile, Ngoudjo, a Cameroonian who fights out of Montreal, is a boxer who’s beaten some pretty good fighters such as Emanuel Augustus and Donald Camarena. He has no problems making weight and hopes a victory over Castillo propels him to a mega fight with Hatton or someone similar.
Tickets are still available for the Hatton-Urango and Castillo-Ngoudjo fights. For more information call (877) 374-7469.