rickyhatton2

Knockout Nation: Hatton and Malignaggi Prevail; Williams Upset! Honoring The Hawk

 

Hatton Hangs Tough

Ricky Hatton had a few questions to answer in his first bout

since being knocked out by Floyd Mayweather. Has he slipped since defeating

Kostya Tszyu in 2005? Has the string of clinch filled, sub-par performances

been due to the higher weight class of 147, or because Ricky has now been

facing better fighters?

 

Some were answered and new questions emerged as Hatton won a

clear but competition decision against Juan Lazcano on May 24.

 

Hatton came out with guns ablaze in the first round, landing

clean hooks to the body and jabbing well from the outside. Lazcano struggled to

cope with the Hitman’s hand speed, and sought unsuccessfully to time his

counters at the end of Hatton’s flurries.

 

Rounds two and three saw Hatton double up his left hook to

the body and head, while continuing to pump a stiff, quick jab which destroyed

Lazcano’s attempts to find a rhythm. However, the former lightweight titlist

started to find isolated success when he would let his hands go with hooks on

the inside.

 

Going into round five, Lazcano had still not won a round.

Hatton continued to be aggressive and started the stanza by bullying Lazcano

into the ropes with quick, leaping left hooks to the head. Lazcano’s attempt to

flurry back was ineffective, as Hatton’s clinching smothered most of the

attack.

 

Lazcano was finally able to sustain an attack in round

eight. Here the challenger hurt Hatton with a solid left hook counter. After

initially holding, Hatton fired back hooks of his own to close out the round.

However, the damage was enough to put Lazcano on the board. 

Round nine saw Hatton bounce back behind flashy but

dangerous chin-up-in-the-air leaping hooks. Likely surprised by Hatton’s sudden

freshness, Lazcano spent most of the round in a shell and trying to block most

of Hatton’s flurries.

 Renewed trouble manifested for Hatton in round ten, as

Lazcano hurt the Manchester

native badly with three successive left hook counters to the head. With his

legs turning to jelly, Hatton immediately grabbed while stumbling into

Lazcano’s chest.

 

The hometown ref amazingly called a halt to the action,

ordering Hatton to a neutral corner while he admonished Lazcano for rabbit

punching. The reprieve extended further as the ref then allowed Hatton’s corner

to retie his shoe.

 

After nearly a minute of recovery time, Hatton bounced back

strong to end the tenth.

 

In the championship rounds Hatton simply outclassed Lazcano

with his superior hand speed. Lazcano found his reaction time too slow to avoid

Hatton charges and he became susceptible to right hand leads which Hatton used

to close out the bout.

 

Final scorecards for the contest were 120-110, 118-110, and

120-108 all for Hatton.

 

Hatton did well in his comeback bout. There was a lot less

clinching, and he showed flashes of the quick combinations to the body that

made him the talk of the boxing world in 2005.

 

However, some of the same glaring problems remained. As with

his past bouts, Hatton began to falter down the stretch, becoming sloppier in

the second half of the bout and getting clocked with counters as a result. The

lack of head movement which has plagued him at the higher level is still

apparent.

 

Also, Hatton abandoned his jab in the second half of the

bout and relied solely on leaping hooks and straights to get him inside (which

in December resulted in Mayweather introducing him into a turnbuckle).

 

At this stage, it’s unlikely that Hatton can do much to

drastically alter his style. And luckily, his next likely opponent (Malignaggi)

doesn’t have the power or punching accuracy to make him pay for his

deficiencies.

 

Malignaggi Escapes N’Dou in Rematch

 

After receiving with a dubious unanimous decision against Herman

Ngoudjo, Paulie Malignaggi had the task of looking good on the Hatton undercard

to set up a 140 showdown to unify the IBF and Ring linear title.

 

Unfortunately tough veteran Lovemore N’Dou (46-10-1, 31 KOs)

had other ideas, and Malignaggi (25-1, 5 KOs) barely escaped with a split decision

win in a bout marred by mauling and Paulie’s “weave dreadlocks.”

 

Seeking to add some pageantry to his entrance and bout,

Malignaggi donned a Rey Mysterio type mask and dreadlock extensions. The weave

proved disastrous in the first round as N’Dou jarred Malignaggi with two

counter rights off the Brooklynite’s jab. The hair flopped all over Paulie’s face,

and likely prevented him from seeing the shots coming.

 

After getting the extensions tapped, Malignaggi boxed well

in rounds two through four, where his sharp jab kept N’Dou at bay and forced

the challenger to try and match boxing skills with a naturally quicker

opponent. Here Malignaggi was able to maintain a work rate edge and counter

N’Dou with left hooks and straight rights whenever the challenger would attempt

to barge forward.

 

In round five, N’Dou rediscovered the timing for his overhand

shots. Due to his jab becoming lazy, Malignaggi found himself on the receiving

end of thudding left and right hook counters.

 

N’Dou carried the momentum shift into round six. It now

became noticeable that while Malignaggi had the edge in volume (mostly due to

his jab), N’Dou was landing the harder, more punishing shots.

 

Round seven saw the Magic Man attempt to get back in the

fight behind shoeshine flurries. Undeterred, N’Dou stalked the champion and

once again landed hard right hook counters to secure the round.

 

As Malignaggi’s hair again became unraveled in the eighth,

N’Dou now began to out-jab Malignaggi, The champion seemed reluctant to throw

and spent the majority of the round backpedaling.

 

Feeling the urgency Malignaggi became aggressive in the

tenth, bullying N’Dou to the ropes and rediscovering his jab from the earlier

rounds. Here Malignaggi was successful in keeping N’Dou off balance with

movement and avoiding overhand counters to his flurries.

 

The championship rounds featured lots of mauling from both

men. Malignaggi kept his edge in punch volume, while N’Dou caught attention

with his harder but isolated single shots.

 

Final scorecards read 114-115, 116-112, and 116-113 for

Malignaggi in a split decision win. Afterward, Malignaggi revealed he hurt his

hand in the sixth which completely threw off his game plan.

 

The win sets up a showdown with Ricky Hatton for the fall,

in which Malignaggi will be a decisive underdog. For all his faults, Hatton is

exceptional in cutting off the ring with his foot speed. Even Floyd Mayweather

was forced to take the fight inside after Hatton’s speed prevented outside

potshotting in the early rounds. Malignaggi won’t have any space to work his

jab, and unlike Mayweather, the Magic Man is woeful on the inside. In those

trenches Hatton will have a field day.

 

Despite this possibility, Malignaggi has earned his shot by

facing and winning against tough competition. Hopefully Paulie and Ricky will

settle matters by year’s end.

 

Aaron Williams Upset on ESPN Friday Night Fights

 

In a shocking turn of events, formerly undefeated

cruiserweight Aaron Williams (17-1-1,

12 KOs) was stopped by unheralded Jose Luis

Herrera (16-4, 16 KOs) this past Friday.

 

An obvious showcase bout, Williams sought to do just that by

blitzing Herrara in the first with straights and hooks. Herrera seemed on the

verge of being counted out after being dropped in the corner by a hard right.

Slowly rising, Herrera inadvertently saved himself after his clinching attempt

resulted in both fighters losing their balance and crashing to the canvas.

Afterward, the referee allowed the ringside doctor to examine Herrera which

brought him more time and resulted in the Columbian escaping the round.

 

In rounds two through four, Williams inexplicably stopped

pressing his attack. Instead, the promising prospect was content to wait on

Herrera while keeping his left hand dangerously low. Wary of getting caught

again, Herrera kept his distance and made sure he didn’t give Williams

counterpunching opportunities.

 

In the fifth, Herrera crashed home a right hand bomb to

Williams’ temple. Hurt badly, Williams retreated as Herrera flailed after him.

Another right hand spun Williams into the ropes and scored a knockdown.

 

Bravely rising after the mandatory eight, Williams still had

not recovered from the first huge right. With Herrera right back on him

swinging for the fences, Williams quickly took a knee without being hit rather

than take another right that would likely have ended matters.

 

However, the ringside doctor came to the apron to view

Williams. After checking his eyes, the doctor decided Williams was in no

condition to continue, and on his advice the bout was stopped with 1:58 remaining.

 

The abrupt ending is a disappointing outing for Williams,

who could have made a huge statement in the now wide open cruiserweight

division. With many of the marquee names in the division coming off losses (Bell, Maccarinelli,

Mormeck) or leaving (Haye), this fight marks a missed opportunity for the young

prospect.

 

But at 22-years-old, all is not lost – and hopefully

Williams uses this fight as a strong learning experience.

 

Throwback Fighter of the Week: Aaron Pryor

 

Arguably the greatest fighter of the light welterweight

division, “The Hawk” Aaron Pryor ran roughshod over all those who opposed him

in the early ‘80s.

 

After turning pro in 1976, Pryor went on to win 26 fights in

a row by knockout. He won his first title against aging legend Antonio Cervantes

by knockout.

 

His most well known bouts are his two entertaining but

lopsided knockout wins over Alexis Arguello. The first fight was marred in

controversy due to Pryor’s trainer Panama Lewis giving him a “black bottle”

before round 14. What was in that bottle was never disclosed, and a urine test

was not done after the bout. Pryor erased all doubts by defeating Arguello

emphatically in the rematch.

 

Later Pryor’s career suffered from drug abuse and eye

problems. After two retirements Pryor finally hung up the gloves in 1990 with a

final record 39-1, 35 KOs. Pryor was elected

to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996, and now serves as a pastor in

Cincinnati.

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