Can you imagine Ricky "Hitman" Hatton performing a Mayweather-esque Philly shell defense in the ring? Do the words Ricky Hatton and defense even belong in the same breath?
Hatton surely hopes so as he hired defensive guru Floyd Mayweather Sr., as his trainer last week.
It's not a secret—defense and a stiff jab are the elder Mayweather's bread and butter. But how does that affect Hatton? The two biggest assets that the top-tier trainer brings to the table, Hatton has shown a lack of enthusiasm for.
The proof is in the pudding: In his one-sided four-round destruction of Jose Luis Castillo, albeit a past his prime Castillo, Hatton threw only 19 jabs through the four round fight...landing only five.
In another one-sided destruction in which Hatton was on the losing end against Floyd Mayweather, Hatton threw an average of 6.3 jabs per round and landed only 11 through the duration of the 10 round fight.
The reason why the jab was such a big factor dates back to Mayweather's fight against Oscar De La Hoya. When Oscar's jab was utilized, the rounds were a lot tougher to score.
Don't forget—Oscar supposedly gave Hatton some "tips" as far as gameplan against Mayweather was concerned...I guess Hatton isn't much of a listener. Which is a big problem if the demanding Mayweather Sr. is going to train him. Senior is known by every fighter who he has ever trained, including his own son and De La Hoya, as being completely relentless.
As far as defense is concerned, observers have been witnesses to Hatton's philosophy in that department: he defends with his face. The following isn't a secret either—no statistics needed: Hatton gets hit...a lot.
The Hitman was quoted saying, "At this stage of my career I am not going to change my style too much, but you are never too old to learn."
No one is ever too old to learn, and while I'm sure we shouldn't expect the short 65" reach of Hatton to bust out philly shells, Mayweather will want him to change his style a bit—just ask Oscar De La Hoya, Joan Guzman, and Chad Dawson.
Mayweather's a counter-punching, defensive trainer; Hatton is a brawler who throws punches in bunches for at least half of the round...the other half: he holds.
His next opponent, IBF Jr. Welterweight Champion Paulie Malignaggi is never at a loss of words, and regarding Hatton's other "defensive" technique, "The Magic Man" said that Hatton is the John Ruiz of the Junior Welterweight division.
Malignaggi (25-1, 5 KOs) also said that considering Hatton's defense, or lack there of, he wouldn't be surprised if he knocked the UK's finest out.
It's not as far fetched as it seems, Malignaggi's knockout numbers are deceiving in regards to his actual punching power. Like one of his idols, Floyd Jr., Paulie doesn't fight with the intention to knock his opponent out—he fights with to win, and if the knockout comes, so be it.
Paulie worked up a reputation of a "never quit" attitude—the public first took note of it when he kept fighting former champion Miguel Cotto in 2006 despite a broken eye socket and a broken jaw suffered in the first two rounds.
Hatton has the same attitude and shares the reputation. The will of the two combatants will be interesting to take note of—if neither falls victim to a KO, expect the fight to go all 12.
Ironcially, the last brawler-type junior welterweight who switched trainers before a title fight against a flashy, trash-talking, technician of a fighter was in 2005...Arturo Gatti hired Buddy McGirt to prepare and train him for one Floyd Mayweather Junior.
We all should remember how that ended. If not, the words "punishment, destruction, and virtuoso-performance" should all be sufficient in summing up the fight.
McGirt now trains Paulie Malignaggi...talk about six degrees of separation.
Although it wouldn't be wise to count Hatton out for the November 22nd fight, neither history nor logic is on his side.
Sometimes the difference of style in fighter-trainer relationships, despite merit and credential, just don't mesh and simply aren't meant to be.
Frankly, barring a big surprise, the Hatton-Mayweather Sr. relationship, isn't meant to be, and Hatton has a better chance of winning without him.
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