Hatton Forces Malignaggi to Eat a Few Words and a Lot of Leather
By Garth Weaver, Doghouse Boxing (Nov 25, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com (Photo © German Villasenor, DHB)  
Well, it looks like Paulie Malignaggi had to eat his words on Saturday night... as well as a lot of Ricky Hatton's punches. Going into the fight, Malignaggi was as brash as always, saying things like "I'm gonna kick Ricky's ass" among other things. Malginaggi was wrong about this one, but nobody is perfect so one can't hold that against him, especially when he got his ass kicked by the best junior welterweight in the world.

Ricky Hatton flat-out mauled Paulie Malignaggi and beat the absolute crap out of him in front of close to 10,000
fans (including an always loud and entertaining contingent of Ricky Hatton fans) this past Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 at the MGM Garden arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It would be hard to make a case for Malignaggi winning a single round. HBO's unofficial scorekeeper Harold Lederman gave Paulie the first round and that was it. It's possible that Lederman was just being generous.

Hatton still fights like Hatton – he's very ferocious, eager to clinch and get work done on the inside before breaking the clinch and following up with 3-5 punch combos. Hatton was all over Malignaggi like stink-on-shit for the duration of the fight. In the second round, Hatton caught Malignaggi with a right hand (the same style punch as the "check-hook" that Floyd Mayweather Jr. KO'd Hatton with in December of 2007) that Malignaggi didn't see coming and almost put him away. Malignaggi immediately initiated a series of clinches after he was badly hurt and almost hit the deck after the straight right and the follow up barrage that Hatton landed in the second round. Malignaggi was even close to doing the "Judah Dance" from 2001 when Zab got blown out in two by Kostya Tszyu.

Floyd Mayweather Jr's father (you can figure out his name) now trains Ricky Hatton following Hatton and his old trainer Billy Graham parting ways. Hatton is trying to secure a rematch with the only man to beat him: Floyd Jr, who has retired. Mayweather needs to un-retire because while he was out belt collecting against the lower risk opponents, he actually had only one title defense in well over 3 years since his last defense before that at 135 title against Jose Luis Castillo. That lone defense, despite collecting belts at 140, 147 and 154, claiming to be the greatest, claiming to put his name above the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis (while giving Jack Johnson a pass because Johnson came from "a different era") was against Ricky Hatton last year. (If you follow the sport and don't believe that, go to fightfax.com – if you have an account – or boxrec.com and look it up.) Mayweather is undoubtedly the most talented and capable boxer of this era, but what good is talent and capability if one doesn't test it to the absolute fullest?

Incidentally, Malginaggi could take a fight with Zab Judah once Judah is re-committed to the junior welterweight division as opposed to welterweight where he just didn't have the power or speed to stay competitive over 12 rounds. If Malignaggi fights Judah, his career as a contender could be over because that is a very winnable fight for Judah at 140 as Judah is faster and has more pop at junior welterweight than he did seven pounds north of that division.

At this point, it appears that Malignaggi will end up being another one of the perennial contenders who is a good fighter and may be able to grab a trinket at 140, who can beat some high profile guys, lose to rising prospects, spoil a few rising prospects, but fails in his attempts to hold on to alphabet titles or win title bids altogether. This scenario will probably only get worse for Malignaggi as fighters from the stacked lightweight division start moving north of 135 to pursue bigger fights in the higher weight classes. Does that mean Malignaggi should be counted out? Absolutely not, however fight fans may want to take a second look at Malignaggi at this stage of his career before making picks for his big fights.

With that said, Malignaggi was still the second best junior welterweight in the world going into this fight with Hatton and at the very best, is still the the second best junior welterweight because he has already beaten the top contenders at 140 and would probably repeat victories against most of them in rematches. It is just too early to write him off, especially given that both of his losses at 140 came to the two best 140 pounders at the times of defeat: Miguel Cotto, who now fights at welterweight and was tied with Hatton by most people as the best junior welterweight until he moved up; and then of course Hatton himself this past Saturday night who still held onto his #1 junior welterweight ranking when he moved back down to 140 after a brief foray in the deep waters of the welterweight division where he simply wasn't as effective as a fighter against the bigger men.

That said, a fight still needs to happen at either 140 or 147 between Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto because that fight has "fireworks" and possibly "candidate for fight of the year" written all over it. It is unlikely that Cotto will come back down to the junior welterweight division, so it is likely that if such a fight were to take place, it would do so at welterweight and it probably would not make a difference to the end result given that both Hatton and Cotto have very similar stats. Hatton seems to have other plans though, namely a fight between the winner of the upcoming Oscar De la Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao superfight.

In hindsight, it was hard to see a ton of changes in Hatton's fighting style, however he only had eight weeks to be trained by Floyd Sr. and there aren't many changes that can be made during the course of eight weeks and one training camp after spending a career fighting with one style. It did seem that Hatton was more eager to try to beat Malignaggi to the punch (which he did often) and Hatton has started to use his head more. Hatton also looked faster, sharper and a lot more agressive than he has in his last three outings.

It does appear that Hatton and Mayweather Sr. will mend well together and that Hatton had hit his plateau with former trainer Billy Graham who led the Manchester mauler to world titles in both the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions before Hatton was knocked out in the 10th round of his lone defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year in a bid to win Mayweather’s WBC trinket.

Floyd Sr. typically trains his fighters to be more slick and use more defense with emphasis on countering and going on the offensive only when his fighters opponent looks to be slowing down. Training Hatton who has a naturally aggressive and fast paced style might be a tougher assignment for Floyd Sr., but at the same time, Floyd Sr. was able to extend Oscar De La Hoya's career by getting the Golden Boy to become a two-handed fighter as opposed to relying on his left hook entirely too much.

Paulie Malignaggi was upset with his trainer James "Buddy" McGirt on Saturday for throwing in the towel in the 11th round of the scheduled 12 round bout. To be fair to McGirt, Malignaggi looked discouraged in his corner after the 3rd round and by the 5th, Paulie appeared to be fighting to survive, as Hatton simply wasn't bothered by anything that Brooklynite threw. When asked about the result during the post fight interview, Malignaggi gave Hatton his due credit but proclaimed that he "was better than being stopped; this goes down as a TKO loss on my record, and I was more hurt in the Cotto fight and they didn't stop that." Well, Malignaggi listened to his corner and was still competitive in the Cotto fight despite the fact that Cotto fractured Malignaggi's cheekbone and grotesquely disfigured the right side of his face.

Maybe McGirt wouldn't have had to throw in the towel if Malignaggi would have listened to his trainer more and stayed busy and competitive, which he clearly wasn't. In the end, it would not have mattered though, for anyone with a working pair of eyes who saw that fight could not make a case for Malignaggi winning or not needing to knockout Hatton to get a win, so it should be expected to see a few pissed-off responses from a handful of posters on the Doghouseboxing.com forums who refuse to accept the defeat of their favorite fighter.

It's possible that the question on quite a few fight fans minds is:"Where will Paulie Malignaggi go from here?" The more intelligent question would be: "Where will Paulie Malignaggi and Buddy McGirt's professional relationship as a fighter and trainer go from here?" McGirt did deal a huge blow to Malignaggi's massive in-ring ego by stopping this fight and he clearly was not happy about that at all. We will have an answer to that question between now and Malignaggi's next fight.

The bottom line is that Hatton, who improves to 45-1 (32), beat the hell out of Malignaggi, who now falls to 25-2 (5). If another writer says that Malignaggi is done, or that it's time for him to retire because he has only two losses to two of the best fighters in the world, then the writers spewing that tripe should probably do one of three things:

1.Get their heads checked;
2.Sign a waiver to fight Malignaggi just to see if he does need to retire; or
3.QUIT BEING SO INFATUATED WITH PERFECT RECORDS and quit being so eager to write off a fighter with one, two, three or even seven losses on their records.

(That's another article for another time.)

Oh, and one other thing…

Those same writers should probably quit with those crap articles after a prospect or a champion loses for the very first time in which said articles almost always question "where does *insert previously undefeated fighters name* go from here."

Not only is that a dumb question with an even dumber answer which is "the fighter will have another fight", but that question is also a slap in the face to any fighter who just suffered his first defeat, especially when the fighter just lost to another great fighter. Or even worse, if that question is asked by four-eyed lard asses who have Cheeto crumbs resting on those fat bellies of theirs, who incidentally lack the pair to lace up a pair.

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