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It’s About Time, Ricky!
By Martin Wade (June 22, 2004) 
Ricky Hatton
I don’t mean to sound bitter (okay, maybe I do), but Ricky Hatton’s public proclamation that he wants the ‘big fights’ is a about two months too late in my book. Why? Because I was buried in the anti-Hatton sentiment, that’s why. Back on April 13th I had a pro Hatton article posted on this website praising the Manchester crowd and basically announcing my conversion to the WBU champions bandwagon. Now put yourself in any aspiring writers shoes, exposure is akin to air and hydration! You feel honored to have your views read by fans, even if they choose to e-mail you later and call you an idiot. I wrote what I believed then (and now) about the Hitman, that he’s an exciting fighter that could make noise once he crossed the pond. And then, POOF! It was gone, my piece was gone and I couldn’t even find it in the archives! What happened? I would have understood flat out rejection (or in Berkwitt speak “shit-canned”) but the Jimmy Hoffa route?

Oh, how naive I was. I was so unlucky as to write a pro-Hatton piece on the week of the Frank Warren pullout on Sharmba Mitchell. Great, lovely, thanks a lot Frankie. It was also the week that Fred Steinberg’s infamous “Missing Persons Report” splashed across the homepage of every website with an American address. The next thing you know Hatton is being questioned in the states with very few making distinction between Hatton the fighter and Warren the promoter. I actually received an e-mail from the PR guru that I still cherish as my only brush with ‘power’ but did Sharmba Mitchell ever call me back with his take on may article? No! Do I sound bitter?

After reading every version of the failed negotiation between Mitchell and Hatton, I’m yet to read that Hatton himself did not feel ready for the challenge. All reports centered around Frank Warren, Gary Shaw and Showtime. Now, Hatton has gone public making it clear that he is frustrated with the course taken by Frank Warren. In response there are talks that the Hitman is gearing towards a showdown with Paul Spadafora, a ‘fight fan’s fight’ if there ever was one. I’m touched, truly I am but Ricky Hatton owes me an interview to make up for my missing article!

Let that be a lesson for fight fans and boxing media, fighters ‘fight’ and promoters ‘promote’ and sometimes their interest do not coincide. Boxing was just rated – and rightfully so – the most demanding of all sports. I never buy any suggestion that one fighter is afraid of another. I can envision Hatton maybe a year ago knowing he needed more seasoning, but never fear. Examine Ricky Hatton’s phone booth style; there isn’t even a hint that he may be squeamish about a ‘fight’. The problem, as evidenced in April, will always be the faithful and abundant support he is afforded in Manchester. Frank Warren, though intent on milking his cash cow must realize the variables he’s dealing with. Ricky Hatton is a short pressure fighter in his prime; there is an ominous expiration date for such a model. The patented Hitman desire in training is a plus given his stocky frame but how many times can he endure such a regimen only to fight the Carlos Vilches’s of the world?

There is a time honored changing of the guard in the sport of boxing, whereby the young lion proves to be too much for the decorated and often more talented old master. Ricky Hatton is of the age and style to fill that order in boxing’s deepest division; but Frank Warren, time, and the games best pure talent, Floyd Mayweather Jr., can conspire to rob him of this role. The onus is now on the Hitman to sit across the boardroom table and attack Frank Warren with the single-minded intent he displays so often in the ring. After he wins this battle the boxing sky will open for Manchester’s beloved warrior to establish himself as a player on par with the fight fans fighter, Arturo Gatti. Like most fans I will observe closely, rooting for the fighter to defeat his promoter for the right to compete and establish some much-needed credibility. As for my vanishing article, maybe I’ll publish a ‘missing article report’ to see if I can weed out the culprit.
The Boxing Junkie.

Until The Next Jones
The Boxing Junkie
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