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Hatton: His Career Is On The Line Against Malignaggi

Paulie Malignaggi Ricky HattonBy Jim Dower: Light welterweight Ricky Hatton (44-1, 31 KOs) will be fighting with his career on the line when he takes on Paulie Malignaggi on November 22nd at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hatton, 30, has hinted at retirement if he’s defeated by Malignaggi, and we may end up seeing just that occurring unless Hatton shows some vast improvement upon his last two performances in his career. Malignaggi is a young, active fighter who specializes in making his opponents miss and look bad. He probably is the wrong kind of fighter for Hatton at this point of his struggling career, especially with all of yo-yo binge weight gains that he’s put on between fights.

The effects started showing up in his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December 2007, a bout in which Hatton didn’t look nearly as good as he had in earlier in his career when he was beating the likes of Vince Phillips and Kostya Tszyu. I don’t see it as a case of Mayweather having too much skill for him, although he is very skilled, but more rather a case of Hatton not having the same kind of animal-like energy that he had previously in his career, before he stared having issues with weight gain in between fights.

You can only go back to well so many times before it runs dry, and I think Hatton’s excessive eating is starting to catch up to him in the past year, effecting him dramatically in a winnable fight against Mayweather.

Hatton has gone back to the drawing board after another disappointing performance, this time against Juan Lazcano who stunned Hatton a couple of times in their May 24th bout, and at one point in the 8th, he appeared to have Hatton in serious trouble after hitting him with a hard left hook to the head. With the addition of new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., Hatton hopes to avoid getting tagged as much in the future against fighters like Malignaggi. It remains to be seen whether or not Hatton will be able to take in the training enough so that it helps rather than hinders him in his upcoming bout against Malignaggi.

However, if for some reason that Hatton doesn’t quite grasp it, we may be seeing the end of his career if Malignaggi turns around and defeats him. Not too many people are giving Malignaggi much of a chance at winning, but they’re making their predictions upon the old Hatton, and are expecting to see him fight as he did years ago. What they may find out is, though, that he doesn’t exist at that level anymore. Hatton is still quite good, but in the way he performed against Mayweather and Lazcano, he looked like only about 70% of what he used to be a few years ago.

That may not be enough to be a crafty fighter like Malignaggi, who fought Miguel Cotto to almost a standstill in his bout with him in 2007. Hatton may not have enough left in the tank to beat a fighter that moves as well, punches as fast and has defense like Malignaggi. We may end up seeing, I hate to say this, another version of Bernard Hopkins vs. Kelly Pavlik, with Malignaggi representing the faster and wilier Hopkins and Hatton filling the bill as the slow and limited Pavlik. While Hatton may still continue fighting if he loses to Malignaggi, his chances for mega paydays would seem highly unlikely after a loss like to him. I doubt that he would want to go back to fighting for much smaller paydays after tasting big money with his fight against Mayweather.

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