The lunacy of Ricky Hatton’s recent career direction was further highlighted during the past seven days as the elite opponents he seeks to add ‘meat’ to the ‘skeleton’ of his victory over Kostya Tszyu two years ago continues to be gobbled up by the draw of the Welterweight division. Ironic considering Hatton’s 2006 conclusion that a move to 147lbs to pursue Floyd Mayweather and make the big fights was the only route forward.
A subsequent about turn, because the first fight with the extra seven pounds became a squeaky points decision against Luis Collazo, undermined that logical conclusion and Hatton’s intentions. Although Castillo in June is a meaningful bout, beyond that his return to the 140 pound division has occurred just as the last of the talent at Light-Welter departs.
Originally, news of Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales’ problems making lightweight encouraged Hatton’s detractors to hold fire. However, events of the past week suggest Hatton may still need to return to the heavier class as the 140 pound division grows bereft of marquee opposition. Stateside, Miguel Cotto successfully negotiated a tricky encounter with European veteran Oktay Urkal to defend his WBA Welterweight belt over the weekend and though unspectacular was economic and effective and further established his credentials at the weight. The belt in question is the one Hatton abdicatedto return to the Light-Welterweight drawing board where he is physically more advantaged as a pressure fighter – the third of four he’s forsaken to avoid mandatory obligations and supposedly pursue more meaningful fixtures.
Elsewhere Lovemore N’Dou signalled his intention to find a money spinning fixture at 147 pounds versus either Kostya Tszyu or Arturo Gatti, while he defers his obligations to the IBF Light-Welterweight belt he secured stopping Ben Rabah. Zab Judah also continues his career at Welterweight as he lines up a clash with Cotto on June 9th, though the tune up bout in April may yet unseat the erratic Judah. Further to this, Diego Corrales signalled his own intention to jump the Light-Welterweight division and tackle rock-solid Joshua Clottey in his debut at 147 pounds.
Floyd Mayweather moves another seven pounds further over the horizon, and about $20million dollars closer to retirement too, when he faces Oscar DeLaHoya for the crown of most well known fighter on the planet. Within the Light-Welterweight division Hatton’s options are further limited by his refusal to unify with WBC Champion Junior Witter and his abdication of the IBF belt (for a second time) to fight Castillo instead of N’Dou. Equally, the likelihood of fighting Soulemane M’Baye – the WBA champion – considering his history with M’Baye’s promoter Frank Warren is slim and WBO Champion Ricardo Torres is a fighter with high risk and moderate repute too, the lucrative options are all but exhausted.
Vivian Harris is the only resident at 140lbs with renown, and that is disputed given his abject performance versus Carlos Maussa two years ago. Kendall Holt, who fights in a WBO eliminator soon, is the rising star and young American Paulo Malignaggi could attract some attention too but the cupboard looks bare for a fighter craving elite competition and major money making bouts. It is hard to summon a case for Hatton to remain at 140 pounds too long and a move back to 147 pounds to have any hope of capitalising on his youth, ability and money earning potential appears inevitable.
Hopefully, Castillo can fuel public interest in Hatton and encourage luminaries from the surrounding divisions to gain or lose weight to face him and grab the bigger cheques his popularity and HBO backing have thus far provided. Though he becomes a free agent after Castillo. I’d certainly hate to see him fail at Welter and regret not facing more mandatory contenders at 140, unifying the belts and forcing Cotto and Mayweather to face him before departing for the Welterweight division.
It would be an unfulfilling and unsatisfactory conclusion to his story for fans and Hatton himself.