Sharkie’s Machine: Hatton and Referee vs. Juan Lazcano
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (May 26, 2008)  
Saturday in Manchester England, Jr. Welterweight Ricky Hatton made his way back into the ring after losing his first fight by KO to Floyd Mayweather Jr. just five months ago.

Ricky Hatton (44-1, 31 KO’s) vs. Juan Lazcano (37-5-1, 27 KO’s) took place in Ricky’s hometown of Manchester, where some 56,000 fans showed up to cheer him on. Ricky’s opponent, former Lightweight contender Juan Lazcano, is a decent fighter with long arms for a man his size. He’s not a big puncher but he’s a well skilled boxer
and proved that he still is, even in this losing effort.

The Fight:

The first round was close and usually, the favorite gets the benefit of the doubt on “official score cards.” I thought Lazcano did the most damage in the first round by landing the cleaner punches, one that drew blood from Hatton’s nose. Though Hatton was busier, he was often the lesser effective in boxing terms. Hatton landed lots of grazing shots and excited the crowd.

The second round was also close, with both guys scoring in turns. The round ended with both guys locked in a clinch. That could’ve gone either way but I gave it to Hatton for being more aggressive.

The third round started with both exchanging punches at center ring, Hatton fell backwards and his glove touched the canvas on what looked like a Lazcano left to the chest. It was ruled a slip. I re-watched it a few times on tape
and a Lazcano left to the face preceded the fall. The angle on the replay was Hatton’s back and Lazcano’s arms covered from view by Hatton’s body. Several times, the referee shoved Lazcano back from Hatton, particularly on breaks. Hatton landed a left hook. Lazcano landed a left hook cleanly that rattled Hatton, who clinched. Lazcano attacked the body during inside the clinches. Hatton warned for hitting behind the head. Lazcano landed at a high rate and was the more effective.

The fourth was a sloppy round, with Hatton aggressively attacking, missing a lot. Hatton landed a left and got a left back. Hatton landed a left hook and Lazcano landed four in a row. In the clinch, Lazcano popped Hatton in the face repeatedly with little inside hooks. Hatton pressed Lazcano into the ropes and again, Hatton ran into a shot from Lazcano. Ref warned Lazcano for who knows what this time.

The fifth saw Hatton explode with aggression as he continuously threw punches, many landing and forcing Lazcano backward. A lot of this fight was in a phone booth. Hatton landed a strafing right. Hatton clubbed Lazcano into the ropes. Lazcano fought well off the ropes but was being outworked by Hatton.

In the sixth round, the ref warned Lazcano for something, tapped him twice on the face in doing so. I don’t know what he was warning him for and the commentators, Wallace Matthews and Nick Charles didn’t seem to know either. Matthews said, “Lazcano’s been warned many times…” but for what, he didn’t say. Hatton bullied Lazcano, who scored some sneaky shots during the clinches. Hatton kept throwing lots of punches, a few of which landed. They brawled against the ropes and Lazcano landed a left hook right before the bell.

Hatton landed some better punches early in the seventh. Lazcano landed a right upper cut, Hatton kept on coming. Hatton busier, more aggressive, even during clinches. Lazcano landed a combination with fading power. Ref warned Lazcano again, maybe for throwing punches back?

Hatton continued his furious aggression in the eighth, Lazcano clinched, the ref took the cue from Hatton and broke the clinch. Lot of wrestling midway. Hatton took a few shots, one to the body. Hatton was taking a pack of punches from Lazcano. Hatton resets and jumps on Lazcano but was ineffective.

It was more of the same in round nine. Hatton landed but took shots in return often. Lot of clinching and infighting, where both have moments. Hatton looks to referee to break clinches when he wants them broken. Hatton clearly did more and continued to edge Lazcano out in terms of volume.

The tenth was back to clinch and punch boxing. Ref warned Lazcano for something and indicated that a cut over Lazcano’s left eye was caused by a punch. Suddenly, a lead right hand by Lazcano dented Hatton’s face. Then he landed a second right to the face before Hatton clinched, then went back to hyper aggressive mode. Lazcano landed three left hooks, Hatton tried to hold, ref broke them. Hatton was holding and the ref warned Lazcano and gave Hatton time to recover. The ref pushed Lazcano away from Hatton and told Hatton’s corner to tie his shoe lace! The referee earned his keep in this round, saving Hatton from who knows…maybe being knocked out?

Lazcano’s trainer told him to keep loading up on those shots.

Hatton held almost immediately at the start of the round. Hatton landed a nice right that pushed Lazcano back.

In the eleventh, Hatton was aggressive early but slowed a bit midway. Lazcano fading, took a lot of Hatton’s best shots in the fight.

The twelfth was like the eleventh, often times in a phone booth as both guys clinch and punched with their free arm. With both guys tired, it was Hatton showed better stamina late, chasing Lazcano, who clinched as soon as Hatton got close. Lazcano took a few shots to the face. Hatton landed a nice left hook. Hatton bounced on his feet with 20 seconds to go. Lazcano clinched till the bell. It was a competitive fight but Hatton certainly did more to win.

The scores were 120-108, 120-110 and 118-110 all for Hatton. I had it 116-112 for Hatton. One Judge had it a shutout, which indicates that the fix would’ve been in had it been necessary. 29 year old, Jr. Welterweight, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton smiled to his home town fans, face swollen and bruised after winning a Unanimous Decision over former Lightweight contender/champion opponent, Juan “The Latin Causing Panic” Lazcano. He almost caused a panic in the tenth round but the referee Howard Foster was there to insure that he didn’t.

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