Gym-shy Ricky Hatton is heading for a heavy fall
If he is to please his fans, Ricky Hatton must abandon his lifestyle or quit the ring right now – and neither look likely
Ricky Hatton said before Christmas he was going to take a holiday in Australia with his girlfriend Jennifer and come back early in January to start getting in shape for a comeback.
His timetable was centred on June against an opponent yet to be signed, and he was going to start by ripping off the several stones of flab he’d piled on since Manny Pacquiao knocked him out in May. He would follow that with a 12-week training camp to get back into fighting trim.
Well, Ricky has either changed his mind about a comeback or has got his dates mixed up. Sitting ringside in Stoke last Friday to oversee his promotion on Sky, he looked like the very substantial promoter he has become. If he weighed anything less than 14 stones, it would not be by much. He didn’t look as if he’d been anywhere near a gym except to check on his fighters.
I spoke to a leading boxing nutritionist about Hatton’s training methods and lifestyle during the week and he is convinced the fighter is heading for a heavy fall.
“You cannot treat your body like that,” he said. “Just taking the weight off will drain him. As you near a fight, you should be gaining strength, not worrying about having to get rid of that much excess weight. Ideally, fighters who are active should not be more than a few pounds over their fighting weight at any time. You should not be losing much more than a pound a week in any circumstances, let along preparing for a fight. And I’m not convinced by Ricky’s training methods, relying so much on supplements to both lose weight and gain strength. It is not natural. And anything that is not natural is no good for a fighter’s body in the long run.”
This is an old theme, of course. But still Ricky will not listen. He has the affection of so many fans and is desperate to please them. He can do that by either abandoning the habits of a life time – which is not going to happen – or quitting the ring right now. And I don’t think that is going to happen, either.
Greed still hurting the sport
Boxing started the year with a spring in its step. There was good reason to believe 2010 would be one of the sport’s best years in a long time. But, as is sadly all too common, it hasn’t quite panned out that way.
Pacquiao-Mayweather is just a dream; Showtime’s Super Six tournament is starting to creak; and Vitali Klitschko says he is going to retire before the year is out.
On the bright side, there are three fighters from these islands who can legitimately call themselves world champions – David Haye, Carl Froch and Amir Khan – with several more queueing up, so we shouldn’t be completely downhearted.
Yet it is frustrating when people who make the money and the decisions feel no obligation to fighters or fans, who put self-interest before the good of a sport that is always fighting for credibility.
I would try to guide you through the forest of confusion surrounding the spring boxing schedule but you’d probably go slowly mad trying to understand it.
If you want to know why Carl Froch is fighting in a small town in the middle of Denmark a week later than originally planned, and again missing from mainstream television, here is the link for you.
We still have no official confirmation that Amir Khan is going to defend his WBA light-welterweight title against Paulie Malignaggi in New York on 15 May, which is worrying. The New Yorker’s adviser, Lou DiBella, is making noises about Paulie being the draw in his home town and clearly is angling for a bigger slice of the pie.
Paulie better get real. He is lucky to get the gig in the first place. If he does the right thing and talks it up in his inimitable style, he will make some money. If he argues about the purse, he will put the fight in jeopardy. It sounds simple, but boxing is never quite like that.
Worst decision ever?
Dan Rafael’s blog on espn is usually thought-provoking, and this week’s was no exception.
Dan was furious when referee Gelasio Perez Huerta hauled Vivian Harris out of his willing scrap with kayo artist Lucas Matthysse in Mexico City on Saturday night. Tough Harris took a couple of hard shots in the fourth but was still trading when Señor Huerta stepped in, handing Matthysse his 24th early win in 26 fights.
“Huerta’s stoppage makes Richard Steele’s famous stoppage in the Julio César Chávez-Meldrick Taylor fight look like the best stoppage in boxing history,” wrote Rafael.
I’ve got news for you Dan: that was the best stoppage in boxing history.
Boxing was buzzing at the time, March 1990. The fight, tagged “Thunder Meets Lightning”, came just a month after Buster Douglas shocked the world by knocking out Mike Tyson, and was just as dramatic.
Chávez, unbeaten, went in with an incredible record of 56 stoppages in 68 fights. Taylor, on the rise and full of himself, was unbeaten in 25 bouts. He led comfortably on two of three cards going into the final round but, for reasons known only to himself and never subsequently explained, Taylor’s trainer, Lou Duva, told him he needed to win the final round.
So Taylor recklessly went toe to toe with Chávez, who rocked him with a minute of the fight left. The Mexican did not let up and a terrific right hand dropped Taylor with 20 seconds to go. He got up, took an eight count and was clearly still dazed as he twice failed to respond in any way to Steele’s inquiries – so the referee stopped it, with Taylor ahead on points, just two seconds from the end.
Whatever Steele saw in Taylor’s glazed eyes in those few seconds was a glimpse of what was to come for Meldrick, who was never the same again and today is a broken man. It was a decision to rival Eddie Futch’s call in pulling Joe Frazier out of the Thrilla in Manila at the end of 14 unbelievably brutal rounds against Muhammad Ali in 1975.
Some times, a fight needs to be put in a wider context than a mere result. These are human beings first, fighters second.