Sunday, June 24, 2007

Boxing Blogging: Hatton v. Castillo

Poor Ricky Hatton. He just can't seem to catch a break.

The English light welterweight superstar just moved to 43-0 with 31 KOs with his 4th round knockout of Jose Luis Castillo (55-8-1, 47 KOs). Prior to the fight, the HBO announcers were saying that this was a fight of the year candidate, that it could be the career-defining victory for Hatton, and that if he won impressively, it would close a lot of question marks as to whether or not he really belonged in the conversation of top pound-for-pound elites.

And what happened? Hatton won. And he won convincingly, with a picture-perfect body blow in the 4th round that dropped Castillo for a 10-count. But far from being a fight of the year candidate, Castillo looked shot as a fighter--instead of being the marquee name on Hatton's resume, he's someone who was past his prime when Hatton took him out (Herman Ngoudjo must be kicking himself all over again that he didn't take the decision against Castillo in their last fight). Hatton had the same problem with the biggest win of his career, his upset knockout victory over Kostya Tszyu. Tszyu retired at the end of that fight, and people wondered if Hatton would have won in Tszyu's prime. In his last two fights, Hatton won an ugly and unconvincing decision against Luis Collazo in his move to welterweight, then a convincing (but still ugly and boring) decision against Juan Urango in his move back down to light welterweight. And from the looks of it, had this fight gone on we would have seen much of the same--a lot of clinching, a lot of grabbing, and not a lot of explosive action. Hatton called out Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at the end of the fight, but all this performance did for me is convince me that such a match-up would be hideously boring (a defensive expert versus a grab-and-hold fighter? Really?).

Meanwhile, Hatton has a problem because he has basically run out of fighters in his weight class. There are a wealth of stars available at welterweight--but the last time he tried moving to that division, it nearly handed him his first career loss. Hatton still has the name, record, and star power to draw big fights--its just unclear who the fighters are going to be. And as for me, I respect the Hitman a lot, but I still don't think he's really got that career-defining, fireworks fight that would make him a boxing megastar.

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