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Ring Magazine

 

Concannon's Corner

Personal Biography

When it comes to top class action, the SKY must show no limits…

When I heard the glass-chewingly irritating and familiar tone of how WBU Light-Welter champion Ricky Hatton’s next opponent was durable and how the young Manchester slugger would do well to stop him, I winced.  Durable, tough to unhinge, I thought; just like a punchbag. 

I am inclined to agree with Ricky’s promoter Frank Warren in the regard in that Aldo Rios is indeed durable.  The Argentinean has yet to be stopped in a record of 34-2 that includes two distance losses in title fights with Stevie Johnston and Artur Grigorian-on paper a reasonable choice, one might have thought.  The trouble is, Aldo Rios is a Lightweight.  Those two distance defeats came in the lighter division against fighters not known for power.  Beyond that, the Rios record is littered with the usual suspects of Argentina’s lighter-weight local circuit, the Faustino Barrios, Vicor Hugo Paz, Ricardo Silva, Alberto Sicurella, Fabian Tejeda types that grace the record of almost every rising pro from the foot of Latin America.  Not bad fighters, true, just ones lacking in the sort of inspirational quality that one would want on the record of a young man challenging for a so-called ‘World’ title.  While most would argue, and I would agree, that the WBU carries little real weight in top-class terms, the fact is, Hatton is being paraded as a champion, so, as such, his opposition should reflect that status. 

The other problem with Aldo Rios is that in his 34 wins; he has stopped just 6 opponents.  Considering the level that Aldo generally fights at, this is a telling stat in terms of his power.  It will be argued that he makes up for his lack of bite with an awkward style, a style that gave the smart boxing Steve Johnston a tricky night back in 1999.  I don’t believe the paying public really want to see their exciting young battler matched with a spoiler though and with the Light-Welterweight division jam-packed with talent right now, speaking as a fight fan, I just don’t understand why it was necessary to plunder a lighter division for a smaller opponent with little power for Hatton’s next defence. 

This is no negative critique of Ricky, or indeed his promoter, Frank Warren, but I feel that it is time for a closer inspection of his opposition since rising to the grade of ‘World’ champion.

2003-04-05 139½ Vince Phillips 140 44-7-1
MEN Arena, Manchester, England W UD 12

Vince may have been a former champion but was just 5-4-1 in his previous 10 bouts and 40 years of age, which when added to the fact Phillips plane had only hit UK tarmac 2 days prior to the bout and the fact he later tested positive for the banned stimulant ephrudrine, makes one wonder why Hatton wasn’t able to stop him.

2002-12-14 139½ Joe Hutchinson 138¼ 24-3-2
Telewest Arena, Newcastle, England W KO 4

Hutchinson’s record had been built largely against losers on the Indianapolis club circuit.  His three previous moves up in class had seen distance defeats to Hector Camacho, Jr., Arturo Gatti and a one round blowout by Teddy Reid.  Hutchinson fell apart from a glancing body blow.

2002-09-28  Stephen Smith  31-1-0
MEN Arena, Manchester, England W DQ 2

Smith was down twice and not nearly robust enough to be tangling with Hatton.  Despite a decent record, Smith had already been stopped, albeit controversially, at Lightweight and with just 14 stoppages was never likely to be a real threat.  Not a terrible pairing by any means, but certainly not the stuff of World titles; just imagine, for a moment, Smith being allowed to tackle Julio Cesar Chavez. Enough said?

2002-06-01  Eamonn Magee  23-2-0
MEN Arena, Manchester, England W UD 12

Magee is as tough as it gets in Europe right now and had Hatton floored and wobbled early on before being outworked.  A good match and Magee was in some world rankings, but truthfully, it was a glorified British title bout.

2002-02-09 139½ Mikhail Krivolapov 139½ 32-2-0
MEN Arena, Manchester, England W TKO 9

The Russian had given world rated Oktay Urkal a reasonable test in a 12 rounder, but despite a good statistical record and inflated world ranking, the Russian was pretty ordinary and Hatton was able to simply walk right through him.  Krivolapov was a good fight for any rising contender with title aspirations, but hardly the stuff title challengers are made of.

2001-12-15  Justin Rowsell  31-1-2
Wembley Conference Centre, London, England W TKO 2

Again, this Australian battler carried an impressive set of statistics.  More tellingly though, he had been exposed when stopped in six by Lovemore N’Dou and was little more than a tough brawler with so-so power and average technique.  Has not fought since.

2001-10-27  Freddie Pendleton  47-25-5
Manchester, England W KO 2

Ancient Freddy had been losing as often as winning for some time, including KO losses in three of his previous nine. He has not fought since and was more a record-padding name than a true threat by 2001.

2001-09-15  John Bailey  19-7-2
Manchester, England W TKO 5

The ‘Mighty Midget’ was nothing more than a tough tank town circuit pro and it was little short of a disgrace that the brave import was brought in to fight for a world title.  Since losing to Hatton, Bailey is 1-3 with 2 stoppage defeats.

2001-07-07  Jason Rowland  25-1-0
Manchester, England W KO 4

Rowland was a talented former British champion with a reputation for fragility.  Even so, he hurt Hatton with a body shot before being bludgeoned to the canvas.  That Rowland had at one point been deemed a suitable foe for Zab Judah (before pulling out with an injury) doesn’t make this a special win.  On paper a good match but the result entirely predictable. Rowland retired recently after never having another fight. 

2001-03-26  Tony Pep  42-7-1
Wembley, London, England W TKO 4

Hatton’s title winning effort came against the experienced Pep in a gift-style vacant title fight.  The experienced Canadian was a useful fighter but one who had spent the majority of his career down at Super-Feather and by this point, way passed his best.  He fought just one more time, a loss to a 13-3-0 fighter for the Canadian Lightweight title.

It gives me no pleasure to dissect a fighters record, especially a good guy like Ricky Hatton, but the bear fact is that if Hatton is to be taken seriously as a World Champion, he needs to step up in class and do it soon.

For those of you Stateside that have yet to see Hatton, he is an exciting slugger with a penchant for all out attack, fun to watch and a precocious body puncher. Though I feel he is often guilty of smothering his attacks in his eagerness to hunt down his opposition, Hatton is good at closing the distance and would present a handful to the divisions best.  Personally, I don’t feel he is quite good enough to ever-beat Kostya Tsyzu or Zab Judah, but I would have a lot of pleasure watching him try.  As a traditionalist, I would rather see Hatton go down in a blaze of glory at top class than have another ten fights with men of the standing of Aldo Rios. 

Warren is a shrewd promoter and Ricky Hatton a good ticket seller.  Warren wants to protect his investment and from a business standpoint, that makes sense.  My problem is that I watch boxing to see competitive and exciting match-ups, not to see people get richer from a nicely marketed product. 

What I want to hear when Ricky Hatton’s opponents are mentioned are words like dangerous, explosive, unbeaten, hungry; a threat.  The words I hear far too often are tough, experienced, never been stopped or that old chestnut, durable.

Ricky Hatton is a nice guy and a good fighter, but with the fast burnout factor faced by men of his style, we need to see him tested and in against the division’s top flight sooner rather than later.

         *                            *                             *                            *

On a more positive note, SKY, who are sometimes criticised for the rarity of the top class international action that they cover, really served up a tasty treat on Saturday night when screening the terrific Jesus Chavez-Sirimongkol Singmmanasak WBC Super-Featherweight title bout.  This really was boxing from the very top draw. The bout featured a superb blend of styles with the aggressive and compact box fighter Chavez against the skilful, stiff counter-punching of the Thai.

There was never a dull moment, never mind a dull round as the two fought a clinch-free classic that was as easy on the eye as any bout I have ever seen.

Chavez did that little more in most of the rounds but it was never easy and as if the fight hadn’t been good enough there was high drama in the tenth as Chavez was clearly hurt from a right after having the champion in trouble with a great left hook moments earlier.  Chavez’s adopted home town crowd in Austin, Texas, must have had their hearts in mouths as the Thai battler went all-out and pinned the champion against the ropes during fierce in-fighting in the last round.  How great it was to see those two proud warriors from such different cultures fall in to an instant embrace of mutual respect seconds after the final bell.  This bout is my candidate for fight of the year so far and it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand-up to have the pleasure to write about it.

For those that don’t know, Chavez took a unanimous decision and is now the WBC champion in a bout that all the elements that true world title fights are made of; a gritty, talented champion against a deserving and dangerous contender, in a bout of fluctuating fortunes, heart, skill and bravery of the highest order.  Jesus Chavez and Sirimongkol Singmmanasak, I salute you.

It just goes to prove that SKY can bring top draw action without the expensive Lewis, Jones or De La Hoya pay-per-view options or the too frequent lower-level domestic stuff parading as ‘World’ title fare.

Credit where it is due, well done to SKY for screening a cracking fight.  Now, let’s keep it coming…

 

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