Dominating Performance by Hatton

November 23, 2008

Ricky Hatton used a newly-refined attack to wear down and eventually stop Paulie Malignaggi in the 11th Round of their junior welterweight title fight. Fighting in Las Vegas for the first time since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December of 2007, Hatton prospered under the tutelage of new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. The new trainer added a bit more head movement, subtle fakes, and feints to Hatton's all-out attack style, allowing Hatton to dominate the light-hitting Malignaggi.

With the victory, Hatton improved his career record to 45-1, and perhaps re-stated his claim as the best 140-pound fighter in the world today. Meanwhile, Brooklyn native Malignaggi lost for just the second time in his pro career, and for the first time by knockout. His prior loss was to former junior welterweight and welterweight champion Miguel Cotto.

Although the fight itself offered little in the way of suspense or intrigue, it wasn't without its lighter moments. One such moment occurred when Hatton, often noted for his self-deprecating humor, came into the ring wearing a "fat suit" underneath his robe. The suit was emblazoned with his nickname "Ricky Fatton." Even stoic ring announcer Michael Buffer seemed amused by the light-hearted gag.

Round-by-Round Recap

Round 1 began with both fighters circling and feinting. Malignaggi carried his left hand customarily low, and looked to be trying to time Hatton as he came forward. Malinaggi, working behind his left jab, landed a stiff one-two combination with under a minute to go. When the round concluded, Hatton already had a noticable mouse growing under his left eye. Malignaggi won the initial round because of that solid jab.

In Round 2 Paulie continued to box off his back foot, and caught Hatton with a counter left hook. Malignaggi later hit Hatton leaning forward with a nice uppercut as well. With 35 seconds to go in the frame, Hatton absolutely drilled the Brooklynite with a HUGE right hand. Although his legs clearly buckled, Malignaggi came back with an uppercut, only to immediately eat a pair of big left hooks from Hatton. Although Paulie still appeared to be busier, this reporter scored the round 10-9 Hatton on the strength of the heavier shots.

In Round 3, Hatton's work mauling and hitting on the inside allowed him to carry the round.

Round 4 saw Hatton snap Malignaggi's head back a few times with a chopping right hand. Malignaggi spent much of the round ducking under punches and grabbing Hatton's leg.

In Round 5 Malignaggi inexplicably abandoned his stick-and-move fluid boxing style, and instead seemed content trying to attack with left hook leads. That strategy left him open to a series of chopping overhand right hands from Hatton. Malignaggi managed to snap Hatton's head back with his jab, but Hatton just seemed to walk right through the smaller man's shots. Hatton's higher workrate and accurate punching allowed him to win this round.

Round 6 saw Malignaggi begin to heed trainer Buddy McGirt's pleas to box, circle, and stick-and-move. However, midway through the round, it is Hatton's own "up jab" that is snapping Paulie's head back. With the round still up for grabs, Malignaggi lands a "check" left hook while circling away that would have made Floyd Mayweather proud. That was enough for this reporter to give him the round.

In Round 7 Hatton rocked Malignaggi with a four-punch combination that was capped off by a mean left hook. Hatton at this point seemed to be easily outmuscling the lighter Malignaggi on the inside now. With under 10 seconds to go in the stanza, Hatton landed a nice straight left.

In Round 8 Paulie landed a nice right hand upstairs - probably his best of the night - and Hatton responded with a thudding right to the body. Hatton also scored with a lunging left jab. By the end of this round, the British fighter seemed to be in control of the fight.

In Round 9 Hatton started the round by rocking his opponent with a big lead left hook. After a stoppage in the action to attend to some loose tape, Hatton resumed battering his opponent with big left hooks. Hatton seemed to be noticeably stronger on the inside as the fight progressed.

Round 10 repeated the same familiar pattern from Hatton: Chopping right hand, left hook, uppercut, clinch, and then a forearm to the throat.

In between Rounds 10 and 11, there appeared to be somewhat of a dispute in Malignaggi's corner, as McGirt warned his charge that he would stop the fight if he didn't see more punch output. Malignaggi did not seem to agree with his chief second's outlook.

Round 11 began with Hatton just working the clearly-weakening Malignaggi over. Then, less than a minute into the round, McGirt - true to his word - stepped onto the ring apron with the intent of throwing in the towel. The official time of the stoppage was :28 of the 11th Round. The elated Hatton earned his 45th victory as a pro and first under the guidance of trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. A dejected Malignaggi could be seen fighting back tears over the technical knockout stoppage loss.

Post-Fight Notes

After the fight, Hatton clearly stated that he would be very keen on fighting the winner of the Oscar De la Hoya-Manny Pacquiao showdown next month. Meanwhile, Malignaggi reiterated his belief that the fight shouldn't have been stopped, saying, "I tip my hat to Ricky, but I was worse off in the Miguel Cotto fight. They didn’t stop it then, why should they stop it now? This goes down as a knockout on my record but it shouldn’t. I'm better than that."

McGirt defended his decision by reasoning, "I stopped the fight... because we were losing. My guy couldn’t hurt him and I wanted him to live to fight another day. There was five minutes left in the fight and I didn’t want to see him get seriously hurt. It only takes one punch. I would rather him get mad at me for stopping the fight than for him to get seriously hurt.”

Prior to the stoppage, this reporter gave all but two rounds to Hatton. The other two members of TheDailySportsHerald's boxing panel gave Round One to Malignaggi, and the remaining rounds to Hatton.

Notes on the Undercard

On the undercard, undefeated junior middleweight contender James Kirkland of Austin, Texas, used his southpaw attack to batter and bruise fellow Texan Brian Vera over 8 rounds before referee Vic Drakulich stepped in to stop the fight. Although down three times, and clearly hurt on numerous occasions, it must be said that the ever-game Vera did land a few big right hands of his own, while simultaneously displaying an uncanny ability to absorb punishment and keep coming forward.

Ricky Hatton's younger brother Matthew was also featured on the undercard. The younger of the fighting Hatton boys improved his career record to 35-4-1 with a unanimous decison victory over tough veteran gatekeeper Ben Tackie in a 10 round welterweight bout. Tackie lives in the Bronx and originally hails from Ghana. Two judges had him winning by scores of 98-92, while the third scored it 97-93.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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