Hatton defeats Tszyu; enters Pound-For-Pound debate
By Alex Pierpaoli
originally published 6/10/05 on KOFantasyBoxing.com
Ricky Hatton surprised a lot of people last Saturday night, perhaps none moreso than Kostya Tszyu who refused to come out of his corner for the twelfth and final round of their bout for the undisputed 140 pound title. More than 22,000 screaming fans in ManchesterEngland were thrilled by every jab, every hook and every uppercut their native son banged against Kostya Tszyu over eleven very competitive and physical rounds of action. The fight began just after 2 am local time, a move Showtime was forced to make in order to prevent internet boxing sites from scooping them on what went down inside the twenty-foot square in Manchester. Kostya Tszyu looked a bit haggard on his way to the ring, like a man up long past his bedtime. And for Tszyu, once the fight began, things would only get worse.
At the sound of the opening bell Hatton came charging out and pressured Tszyu, tying him up when he got close and digging to the body with short chopping blows along the ropes. I’m not afraid of you at all was the message Hatton sent to Tszyu in the bout’s first three minutes. When Tszyu missed with a right hand at one point Hatton side-stepped him and cracked him with an illegal rabbit punch that drew no warning from Referee Dave Pariss, but sent a clear message to Tszyu that on this night things were going to get rough.
Hatton’s strength was apparent immediately when the combatants tugged and grappled with each other. Tszyu was unable to get into position to fire his punches with Hatton taking the fight right to Tszyu’s chest, pinning him along the ropes and banging away at the Australian’s mid-section with both hands. Tszyu needed distance to get his punches off but the kid from Manchester wouldn’t give him any. With Tszyu along the ropes, Hatton could keep him there raking at his face and chin with uppercuts and short chopping hooks.
The third round was better for Tszyu and he got his own jab working effectively. Surprisingly it was Hatton who had been winning the jab duel in rounds one and two. When the fighters got close and tangled in the third, Tszyu was banging at the brain stem of Hatton, and who could blame him if it was in retaliation for all of Hatton’s butts and bumps that went without any warnings from Referee Dave Pariss?
Looking over my notes, I had scribbled in round five: If Tszyu has to keep up this pace what happens? Well, we found outﾅ
Hatton stormed out to start the sixth giving Tszyu no respite from his aggression. Defensively, Hatton was incredibly resilient, taking hard shots that didn’t seem to faze him. Clearly tiring, Tszyu’s mouth was hanging open from the fourth. Frustrated from the bullying of Hatton it was Tszyu going at the cup of Hatton, hitting him low in hopes of slowing Hatton down and stopping him up. But on this night Hatton would not be denied, intimidated or roughed up in front of his countrymen and when Hatton slammed an uppercut to the gonads of Tszyu finally Ref. Pariss gave him a stern warning.
From the start Hatton’s jab was a hard popping range-finder that did the work to keep Tszyu on the defensive and set up Hatton’s charges. This writer certainly didn’t expect to see such an effort from Hatton and even during the fight as Hatton was piling up the points I expected Tszyu to mount a comeback as the rounds went on. It was not to be.
Hatton’s strength and pressure were just too much for the champion who seemed to get old before our eyes. With all of the talent at 140 pounds a rematch of Tszyu-Hatton may not be the most likely or most profitable follow-up for the new 140 pound king. But Hatton’s win does leave some questions, is Tszyu finished? Could Hatton employ that same pressuring physical offense against someone like Floyd Mayweather? With a stricter referee would Hatton dispatch Tszyu with such ease? Will Ricky Hatton really fight somewhere other than the UK?
We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, yes, Ricky Hatton deserves a spot in the Pound-For-Pound best of the sport, though I would not give him Tszyu’s position with the win. My pound-for-pound would have Ricky Hatton shoulder his way into the number 9 spot, pushing Judah to tenth and Tszyu falls from 3 to thirteenth.
For the record my card was as follows:
Tszyu retired on his stool after the eleventh.
My score was 106 -103 for Hatton at the time of the stoppage.
Your KOFantasyBoxing poll results
Here at KOFB we want your internet experience to be a democratic and interactive one. We’re interested in what you think of the latest goings-on in the Sweet Science and we try to keep our polls up to date with interesting topics. Please keep voting and just remember to hit refresh on your browser to see additional polls.
Recently we asked for your take on the Corrales-Castillo war and asked whether or not you felt Tony Weeks stopped the fight too soon. Sadly, sixty percent of you felt that Weeks moved too quickly in rescuing Castillo from the murderous bombs of Diego Corrales. It did seem that after Corrales got the extra time to rinse his mouthpiece shouldn’t Castillo get at least equal consideration when he was on the other side of the punishment? The problem with that logic is that boxing is a sport of milliseconds and if you watch the replay Castillo had become helpless just before Weeks stepped in. My take is that Tony Weeks officiated a nearly perfect round that certainly could have lead to a tremendously dissatisfying or tragic conclusion. I thought the fight could have been waved off as soon as Corrales went down the second time but Weeks didn’t overreact. He calmly but forcefully gave Corrales the 8-count then penalized him for removing the mouthpiece. When Weeks stopped the fight a few moments later he was reacting to the way Castillo was absorbing punches and the fact that he went completely limp a fraction of a second before the stoppage. I shudder to think what would have happened if Castillo absorbed even one more of Corrales’ punches after his eyes rolled back and his head began to loll around on his neck.
Forty percent of you consider Bernard Hopkins the best fighter on earth, a result the oft-overlooked Executioner has finally achieved throughout most of the boxing world. The Pretty Boy is next according to the majority of you, then Morales, etcﾅ
You are pretty evenly split on the futures of Felix Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr. A slight majority feel that Jones will fight again but will never be considered as great as he was. While retirement is favored by 35% for Tito with a truly sadistic 10% of you who’d actually enjoy seeing him beat up on Fernando Vargas again!
More than seventy-five percent of you do not believe that Julio Cesar Chavez has really said adios to the Sweet Science. And chances are you’re absolutely right.
And finally, almost one hundred percent of you pick Miguel Cotto to avenge his amateur defeat this weekend versus Mohamad Abdulaev. I know I’m on shaky ground after tabbing Tszyu to steamroll Hatton but if there ever was a live underdog it’s Abdulaev. Take away Abdulaev’s freakish loss to Emmanuel Clottey and Abdulaev-Cotto would be a super-fight, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be a close one, especially when you think back on how Demarcus Corley turned Cotto’s legs to jelly a few months ago.
We’ve added a few more polls and there are still a few we’re saving for another results piece so until then keep on voting fight fans.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com