They’re probably still singing in Manchester, but it might be a little off key.
Ricky Hatton took a one sided unanimous decision over game Juan Lazcano, but not without taking plenty of bruising shots himself. The wide scoring margin may have been accurate, but it didn’t reflect how hard Hatton was pressed in his “Homecoming” performance during a grueling if unspectacular fight that looked much easier for the UK icon on paper.
“I’ve got the talent to make things much easier for myself but I end up making it exciting,” said a lumpy but unfazed Hatton afterward. “That’s why the crowd comes out.”
Hatton was serenaded by around 56,000 cheering chums on a brisk evening at the City of Manchester Arena, for his first gloved up appearance since losing to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last December. That defeat didn’t seem to lessen Hatton’s overall appeal one British bit.
Both fighters weighed in at 139 ¾.
The 5’6 Hatton came out looking psyched up and animated, but had trouble getting on tagging track. The 5’9 Lazcano found the range first and used his seven inch reach advantage to score with left counters, and bloodied Hatton’s nose as he rumbled inside.
Hatton dug more to the body as the bout turned into a mauling waltz by round three. Lazcano kept defensive elbows in tight and Hatton looked frustrated.
Hatton backed Lazcano to the strands more and more and took control by the fifth frame. As Lazcano’s offense faded, Hatton’s increased. Hatton got through with cleaner conks by the midway point and started to dominate.
Lazcano seemed tentative and troubled as the eighth round began but he never stopped throwing, and Hatton appeared stunned as the session wound down.
In the tenth, Lazcano had a nick over his left eye from what was ruled a clash of cabezas. Then, after Hatton was rocked by a trio of left hooks, referee Howard Foster called a break in the action for Hatton to tie a shoe. Foster seemed to warn Lazcano for everything that side of not being British.
Hatton sealed the deal with good rights in round eleven and pounded Lazcano around the ring to close the show. They hugged and mugged to the finish line.
Scoring: Phil Austin 120-108, Marcus McDonnell 120-110, Pat Russell 118-110.
“Believe you me, I felt the pressure coming back from a knockout,” said Hatton. “It brings on a lot of demons. I think I hurt him, but then I put myself at risk (attacking). He put punches together very well and caught me a few times. Now the hardest ones out of the way, and I’ll continue to do my fans proud.”
On this side of the proverbial pond, Versus Network stepped up their already deep boxing coverage for a midday brunch and crunch broadcast stateside. All that was missing was the local tea.
Hardware up for grabs was Hatton’s IBO Light Welterweight belt, but the contest was mainly to position Hatton for even bigger and better things.
“Not everyone can afford to travel to America,” said Hatton, now 44-1 (31). “This was a gift to my fans for all their unbelievable support.”
Hatton continued to mention his desire for another shot at Mayweather, perhaps by the end of the year in an even larger venue.
That may be too short a time frame For Floyd’s wide-ranging dance card, but team Mayweather are wise businessmen that know how much a rematch would be worth on either side of the Atlantic, or a specially made island somewhere in between. Hatton and Mayweather will probably meet again by this time next year.
In the mean time, Hatton is tentatively set to face Paulie Malignaggi, who squeaked by Lovemore N’dou in the featured undercard advertisement. Despite an off night, based on Malignaggi’s slick style and respectable showing against Miguel Cotto, Hatton should think more than just twice about potential risk-reward repercussions or concussions.
Some Hatton haters considered a Lazcano a legitimate threat, but while the Hispanic is definitely a quality fighter in the 140 pound division, there was no real reason to cause “Panic” amongst the Manchester faithful.
The best I’ve seen Lazcano look was in a losing effort against Jose Luis Castillo. To me, a subsequent, uninspired victory over Ben Tackie (who also took Hatton the distance) indicted Lazcano, who was no match for the English bulldog’s boxing bite. Lazcano, 37-5-1 (27) fought worthy of the massive moment.
Hatton is immensely popular amongst the hometown blokes whether he’s downing pints or dropping contenders. After further stories about how he balloons up and down in poundage, maybe the endorsement rich Hatton could be a spokesman for both weight-watchers and various hops based beverages. Hatton even made his entrance in an image mocking fat suit.
It says here there’s still a chance Hatton faces Oscar de la Hoya, co-promoter of today’s Lazcano gala.
No, I haven’t been hitting the stateside suds too hard myself. Dodger Stadium could barely contain a Ricky meets Oscar party. Consider this month’s De la Hoya – Steve Forbes soccer stadium scene times ten, with better odds for a De la Hoya farewell victory than he’d have against Mayweather or Cotto.
Concession sales, especially around the kegs, would be through the open air roof. Mix Tecate with Guinness and call it a Baja Bulldog Beer.
Don’t forget the typical Hatton wonderland singing, cash registers and all.