The on-going PR campaign being waged by Junior Witter’s irrepressible promotional team, Hennessey Sports is beginning to take on a life of its own. Perpetual and persistent, the endless supply of challenges made to Ricky Hatton is slowly returning the long-overdue Hatton v Witter clash to the top of most boxing fans’ list of must-see engagements.
True, Hatton’s clash with Jose Luis Castillo takes on greater meaning for the intangible ‘legacy’ to which it seems all boxer’s attribute every matchmaking decision of their career – though precious few selections actually the deliver the validation they claim to crave – and for the lucrative American market for whom Junior Witter represents… a metaphoric no-fly zone. But, and it is a big but – not quite Carl Baker big, but big all the same – the Hatton team are increasingly running out of viable reasons for not making the fight, reflected in a belated moment of honesty from Ricky Hatton who conceded he would NEVER fight Witter simply because he hated the notion of giving him a career best pay-day when he’s offered no respect in the intervening period.
It is true Witter is not a ticket-selling fighter, nor has he looked at his fearsome best in his last four bouts but with the WBC belt secured he does have something Hatton has previously clamoured to claim he wants – a genuine belt. Certainly belts, for all their detractors and I’m one, has been the principle plank of Hatton’s defence when charged with making mediocre fights. Maussa, Collazo and Urango all substantiated by the belts they held when Hatton faced them. The true value of the belt revealed in Hatton’s willingness to relinquish rather than face awkward mandatories; M’Baye, Rabah and soon N’Dou in the immediate aftermath of victory.
It would be churlish to suggest Hatton cannot have a fulfilling career without Witter, because in Castillo, Corrales, Harris, Freitas, Casamayor, Cotto, Mayweather, Margarito and other emerging contenders he has a strong cast of potential foes. But in our hearts, British observers know and surely Hatton must to, that the annoying presence of Witter will haunt his ‘legacy’ long after he hangs up the gloves if he doesn’t accommodate him.
Much like Herol Graham is still used to undermine the achievements of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, two contemporaries who preferred not to pursue ‘The Bomber’ and his elusive skills. The comparison runs deep.
Here’s hoping somebody within Team Hatton sees sense soon.