Mayweather/Hatton: Good In Its Own Right

I was wrong to doubt it. But I was right to think that that best possible outcome was Ricky Hatton forcing Floyd Mayweather to fight. I thought it was back and forth until around the seventh, when Mayweather cranked up some of his vintage self — the one willing to take risks, the one concentrating on offense with a side helping of defense — and battered Hatton into a 10th round knockout.
Point is, it was a genuinely good and dramatic fight. Not like with Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya, where it was good compared to what was expected. Hatton brought out the best in Mayweather.
Let me be very clear on one point. People are going to say, “Mayweather beat up a smaller man, one with no skill; who cares?” Those people are charlatans. Mayweather may look more comfortable at welterweight (147 lbs.) than Hatton, but this was not some insane size difference that made it a mismatch. Never forget that Mayweather started at 130 lbs. And Hatton showed he had plenty of skill by winning every other round for a while. Mayweather isn’t easy to hit. Hatton hit him. This is a very good win by Mayweather over a fellow pound-for-pound top-10er, and he performed entertainingly in it.
What was the big difference maker? Accuracy. Mayweather had it, Hatton didn’t have it as much. Here’s why it’s hard to beat Mayweather: You can try to overwhelm him with activity, and maybe, in the end, it’s still the only hope of beating him. But he’s going to make you pay. He nailed Hatton with tons of counter shots, and he caught Hatton coming in all night, even in the rounds he lost. He was precise, focusing on quality over quantity. Hatton’s gameplan was sound, but Mayweather’s just that good.
It’ll take a lot more than he’s showed us to be the best of all time, as he claims. But his talent level, his skill level, his intelligence — all of them give him the potential to be one of the best of all time, if he keeps at it. Which he might not, because…
Next for the winner: …Mayweather says he’s retiring again. I’ll believe it when I see it. Truthfully, I don’t want to believe it. Save for the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in March, there’s no fight I’d rather see than Mayweather in against Miguel Cotto. Cotto’s clearly the second best welterweight in the land, maybe the best. He has the boxing skill and educated, power-punching pressure that could most trouble Mayweather. He’s bigger than Hatton, too. There are other welterweights besides Cotto that could cause Mayweather more trouble than Hatton did, namely Paul Williams and Shane Mosley. (Note my exclusion of Antonio Margarito. too flat-footed to catch Mayweather with anything, no matter what his own mindlessly slavish fan base thinks.) I’d take Mayweather in a fight with either of them, but Cotto offers the best match-up. If Cotto can’t get a fight with De Le Hoya, Mayweather’s his next best money option. Please please please please boxing, make this fight happen. Mayweather’s adviser Leonard Ellerbe has raised the possibility of Mayweather traveling all the way up to middleweight (160 lbs.) and while I have little to no doubt that Mayweather could beat some of the belt-holders in that division, I really only want to see Mayweather in fights that challenge him from here on out. Nobody at middleweight — assuming Kelly Pavlik doesn’t stay — could give Mayweather much of an argument, I don’t think.
Next for the loser: News reports of Hatton and De La Hoya already being in talks for a mega-fight are not likely to go away completely with this defeat, but I don’t think Hatton should do it. From a money standpoint, sure he should; from a legacy standpoint, nuh-uh. If Luis Collazo and Mayweather, too relatively powerless welterweights, hurt Hatton so badly, I hestitate to think what De La Hoya — who’s fought effectively as high as middleweight — would do to him. I think Hatton could rule the junior welterweight (140 lbs.) division for a few more years, and make entertaining scraps with the likes of Paulie Malignaggi and Junior Witter, bouts I would favor him to win. Go south, Hatton. Your old home is calling you.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.